Senior bureaucrat Rajiv Bansal has assumed the office of Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Air India. In his second stint at the helm of the national flag carrier, Bansal has taken charge from Ashwani Lohani. His appointment assumes importance as the government is once again pushing for selling off the debt-laden Air India.
Bansal, a 1988-batch IAS officer of Nagaland cadre was serving as the additional secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved his appointment as the Air India Chairman, in the rank and pay of additional secretary, on Thursday last week.
Back in August 2017, Bansal was named Air India's interim CMD for a period of three months. Back then too, he had replaced Lohani, who went on to head the Railway Board after completing his two-year stint at Air India. Under Bansal's short term, Air India had launched flight operations to Copenhagen and other destinations. He also took steps to reduce expenses and improve on-time performance of Air India flights.
Bansal, who hails from Haryana, has served in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, where he had looked after digital payments, Aadhaar and internet governance among others. In his three-decade-long career, he has worked as Secretary, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC); Joint Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries; and also as Director, Ministry of Civil Aviation. Moreover, he has also held important assignments in the state government of Nagaland.
He is a civil engineer by profession having graduated from IIT Delhi in 1986. He has a diploma in finance from ICFAI, Hyderabad, and an executive masters in international business from IIFT, New Delhi.
Bansal's appointment comes at a very crucial time, as the government is trying to sell its entire stake in the loss-making national carrier. As part of the ambitious strategic disinvestment, the government had on January 27 issued the preliminary bid document for 100 per cent stake in Air India, which has a debt pile of over Rs 60,000 crore.
(With PTI inputs)