Reviving the Maharaja: Civil aviation minister Praful Patel has outlined plans for Air India
INDIA’S government yesterday promised to revamp troubled national carrier Air India's top management, including the appointment of a new chief operating officer. Civil aviation minister Praful Patel announced there would be "a major change" at the cash-strapped airline, against a backdrop of protests by its employees over the non-payment of their salaries. "You will see in the next 30 days a major change in the top management in Air India. Some heads are going to roll," Patel said. "We are going to bring high-quality people of great integrity and people with a proven track record in business," he said. Civil aviation ministry sources said at least "seven internationally reputed independent directors" would be appointed to the airline's board. The airline will also appoint a chief operating officer, a new post that will be advertised in global media. High fuel prices, fewer passengers and the global economic crisis have left Air India with $800m (£498m) in losses and debts of $4bn (£2.48bn) in the past year, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. Last month the management of the struggling state-run carrier - which merged with government-run domestic carrier Indian Airlines in 2007 - told its employees it would defer $73m (£45m) in June wages until July 15. The airline also asked its top managers to forgo one month's salary as part of efforts to survive the crisis.
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