Tatas rejig Air India top deck, restore salary partially

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran has recast the management structure at Air India and partially restored some of the salary cuts that employees were subjected to due to the pandemic when the airline was under the central government.

Tata Sons took control of Air India on January 27 this year. Chandrasekaran appointed new executives for finance, human resources, technology and customer service to reinvigorate the Maharaja’s operations even as he is yet to appoint a CEO. He has tapped talent from other Tata companies to handle the key portfolios at Air India. Simultaneously, the current AI team — captain R S Sandhu, Vinod Hejmadi, Meenakshi Mallik and Amrita Sharan — have been demoted to executive roles from board positions.

Following the changes, AI has just three board members (Chandrasekaran as chairman and two independent directors in HUL MD Sanjiv Mehta and former GIC chairperson Alice Vaidyan). Tata Sons will be expanding the AI board in the days to come. In a communique to AI employees, Chandrasekaran said Sandhu and Hejmadi have been reappointed as chief of operations and chief financial officer.

Mallik and Sharan have been reappointed as advisers to the AI chairman. Later, they will be advisers to the CEO when the airline fills the position. Simultaneously, Chandrasekaran has appointed Tata Sons senior VP Nipun Aggarwal, who played a crucial role in the AI acquisition, as the carrier’s chief commercial officer, Tata Steel VP (HR) Suresh Tripathi as chief HR officer, Tata Digital head (strategic initiatives) Satya Ramaswamy as chief technology officer and TCS head (passport seva programme) Rajesh Dogra as head of customer experience.

Meanwhile, AI has joined other airlines like IndiGo in rolling back some of the austerity measures taken due to the pandemic (see graphic). “As the hope of a post-pandemic world seems within reach and the aviation sector takes off once again with some visible changes in our performance, we are happy to inform you that your salary cuts have been reviewed and the restoration of salaries will happen in a phased manner,” Sharan, AI’s director-personnel, said in a communication to employees on Friday.

Pilots’ flying allowance and special pay will be restored by 20% and 25%. These components were slashed by 35% and 40% after the onset of the pandemic. Likewise, cabin crew’s flying allowance (that forms major part of salary) will be restored by 10% (it was cut 15%). Wide-bodied plane allowance for crew operating on twin-aisle Boeing aircraft will be restored by 5% (it was cut by 20%).

Among other employees, the officers’ allowance will be restored by 25% (it was cut by 50%), while other staff members’ allowances will be restored to pre-pandemic levels. Gross emoluments given to Indian employees who are based at foreign locations will be restored by 5% at a maximum of $150 (this was cut by 10% at a maximum of $300). “All deductions will be reviewed again in the coming few months,” Sharan said.