Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Can 'turnaround specialist' Lohani make Maharaja fly high again?

New AI CMD Ashwani Lohani
AS A last ditch effort to turn around the ailing Maharaja, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought back 'turnaround specialist' Ashwani Lohani to head the national carrier, which will be Lohani's second term in Air India.
Former Railway Board chairman Lohani was last week appointed chairman and managing director (CMD) of Air India, according to a government order. His appointment was...
approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
Lohani's first tenure in Air India was from August 2015 to August 2017, during which he helped pilot the organisation to a financial operating profit.
Lohani, 60, who is an officer of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), was appointed Railway Board chairman in August 2017 and retired in December 2018.
One of his first decisions as Railway Board chairman was to ban gifts and ceremonial welcomes and farewells. Lohani is also the man behind Train 18, India's fastest train that will have its inaugural run from Delhi to Varanasi and will be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 15.
As the Railways' senior-most bureaucrat, Lohani brought the prestigious bullet train to India.
As head of both - Railways as well as Air India - he was able to bridge the gap between his office and employees.
Lohani, who holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, was also ITDC chairman as well as director of the Rail Museum in the capital.
In his nearly two-year term in Air India, Lohani had managed to revive employees' morale and thereby considerably improve the airline's operational performance. He started the Delhi-San Francisco nonstop in winter of 2015 as a thrice weekly flight. That flight is such a hit now that Air India currently operates this route nine times a week and still most seats for this summer are sold out. AI's success on this route has led to US major United deciding to operate this route on a seasonal basis from this winter.
Lohani is a 1980-batch IRSME (Indian Railway Service Mechanical Engineering) officer hailing from Madhya Pradesh.
He had headed the national carrier from August 2017 to September 2017 before being moved to the Railway Board as the chairman, from where he retired in December, 2018.
Lohani is a railway engineer credited with restoring the world's world’s oldest working steam locomotive for running the Fairy Fairy Queen between Delhi and Alwar now has the unenviable task of reviving Air India. Lohani’s blog lists “turning around sick corporations” among his main interests.

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