|Air India new CMD Ashwani Lohani
HE can “handle sick companies and turn them around”. He is “a highly decorated officer who is also known as Mr. Turnaround.” So says his LinkedIn profile. He is Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers official Ashwani Lohani, who was on August 20 named the...chairman and managing director (CMD) of ailing national carrier Air India Ltd for three years. He is also credited with the turnaround of the ITDC post-disinvestment in 2001-02.
He is at present working as Managing Director of MPTDC in Bhopal. If you are fascinated by all the jingles and brief ad about the ‘Heart of India’ in radio and TV, the man behind promoting the “Hindustan Ka Dil Dekho” campaign in 2006 was none other than Lohani. Now, it will be interesting to see how this Mr. Turnaround applies his experience for taking Air India back on track.
Lohani, who is the first Railway Service Officer to be made the CMD of Air India, will succeed Rohit Nandan, a 1982-batch UP-cadre IAS officer, whose extended tenure ends on August 21.
Lohani's appointment came at a crucial juncture when the government is trying hard to bail out the ailing Air India from its financial mess and put it on the road to profitability.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has approved appointment of Lohani, a 1980 batch IRSME officer, as CMD, Air India Ltd for a tenure of three years, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said.
An engineer-turned-bureaucrat, Lohani is presently working as managing director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation in Bhopal.
The first extension came on August 11, last year, after he completed a three-year term at the helm of Air India, steering it through a difficult phase of merger with the direction that "the process of selection of a new CMD may be completed in the meantime".
Following this, the Civil Aviation ministry had sought his continuation in the post crediting Nandan with improving the performance of the loss-making airline and successfully making Air India a member of the 27-member global airlines grouping, Star Alliance.
A qualified mechanical engineer, Lohani is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. He is the founder member of the Indian Steam Railway Society and member of CII National Council on Tourism.
He has a passion about writing and has even authored two books - 'Winning at work against all odds' and a coffee table book 'Smoking Beauties' that came out in March 2004.
In January 2006, Lohani also authored a report on 'Rail Heritage and Tourism'. He is also life member of Museums Associations of India and Institute of Rolling Stock Engineers.
“When Mr. Lohani came to MP Tourism, it was in a very bad shape. In fact, tenders had been put out to sell the properties, but Mr. Lohani turned everything around. He is a very positive man, very approachable and cooperative. Every employee, no matter what the designation is, has direct access to him. He motivates people to work hard,” The Hindu quoted Suheil Qadir, general manager of MPTDC, as saying.
Air India is at present surviving on a Rs.30,000-crore bailout package approved in April 2012 under a Turnaround Plan/Financial Restructuring Plan.
Air India reported a net loss of Rs.5,547.47 crore in 2014-15 with total revenues touching Rs.19,781 crore. The loss was bigger than in the previous fiscal but the airline managed to reduce it from the 2012-13 figure of Rs.7,559.74 crore.
Air India’s financial performance during 2014-15 fell well short of its internal estimates, which had pegged the net loss at Rs.4,346 crore and revenues around Rs.21,290 crore.
Air India’s total debt is Rs.50,000 crore and its combined losses stand at a whopping Rs.30,000 crore.
Lohani tweets frequently and also has his own blog.