Ilker Ayci declines CEO and MD of Air India position, accuses sections of Indian media of undesirable narrative
Former Turkish Airlines Chairman Ilker Ayci on Tuesday said he declined the Tata Group's offer to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director of Air India as "some sections of the Indian media" have attempted to "colour" his appointment in an undesirable manner.
Ayci is considered to be close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Pakistan.
RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch had last Friday told PTI the government should not give clearance to the appointment of Ayci, "keeping in view national security".
Tata Sons had on February 14 announced the appointment of Ayci as the CEO and MD of recently-privatised Air India.
"Since the announcement, I have been carefully following news in some sections of the Indian media attempting to colour my appointment with undesirable colours," Ayci said in a statement.
"As a business leader who has always prioritised professional credo, and more importantly, the happiness and well being of my family above all else, I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honourable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such narrative," he added.
Ayci said he remains grateful to the Tata Group and its Chairman N Chadrasekaran for extending to him the honour and the opportunity to lead Air India.
"However, at a recent meeting with Mr Chadrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Group, I regretfully informed him, and I wish to inform the public, as well, that I will decline the position," he said.
Ayci said he has taken this decision with a heavy heart, and he wishes Air India and the Tata Group every success.
"I will continue my career by pursuing alternative opportunities to create value and build world-class businesses," he said.
Tata Sons did not respond to PTI's request for a statement on Ayci's decision.
Salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group had on October 8 last year won the bid to acquire debt-laden state-run Air India by offering Rs 18,000 crore for it.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch's co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan had told PTI last Friday, "We feel that government should not give its permission (to Ayci's appointment) keeping in view national security."
"I think the government is already sensitive to the issue and has taken up the matter very seriously. I don't think the government will approve it," he added.
When asked for the reasons why his organisation is opposed to the newly appointed CEO and MD, Mahajan had reiterated that it is a matter of national security. "After all, decisions are taken about a person based on his relationships," he had said.