Pawan Arora has been sacked as the chief operating officer of Air India Express, the low cost international arm of Air India. The decision was taken by the full AI board, which met the following on Thursday. Sources mentioned AI COO Gustav Baldauf has protested for the civil aviation ministry against Arora's removal.
"Baldauf selected Arora and is unhappy in the decision to sack him. We have told him it's up to him to decide what he wants to do," a top ministry official said.
Another high-profile appointment — of Stefan Sukumar as chief of training — is also under the scanner, having a two-member committee getting formed to glimpse into the "process of recruitment" and submit a report for the board within a fortnight.
In an action-packed day, AI CMD Arvind Jadhav and three independent directors — Air Chief Marshal (retd) Fali H Major, FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra and Ambuja Realty chairman Harsh Neotia — met civil aviation minister Praful Patel just before proceeding for the board meeting.
Thereafter, the Board unanimously decided to sack Arora, over a grounds that a number of issues about him weren't known at the time of his appointment — as reported very first by HT.
Arora joined AI on October 11. On October 22, HT exposed the truth how the Director General of Civil Aviation had removed him from four key flight-safety posts just before he joined the national carrier.
On November 1, AI's independent directors met the PM's main secretary TKA Nair to tell him they have been "misguided" and "kept from the dark" about Arora's record.
It also emerged that Arora was the chief reference for Baldauf, inside a report by a headhunting agency hired to short-list candidates to your AI COO's post.
Within months of Baldauf taking over, Arora was produced AI Express COO. Each earlier worked together in Jet Airways Konnect.