Tata Sons-owned Air India on Thursday appointed aviation industry veteran Campbell Wilson as its chief executive officer and managing director, months after former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci turned down the offer.
Wilson has about 26 years of aviation industry expertise across both full service and low-cost airlines. At present, he is the CEO of Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ (SIA’s) wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary. The Air India board has approved the appointment, which is subject to requisite regulatory approvals, Tata Sons said in a statement.
“I am delighted to welcome Campbell to Air India. He is an industry veteran having worked in key global markets cutting across multiple functions. Further, Air India would benefit from his added experience of having built an airline brand in Asia. I look forward to working with him in building a world-class airline,” Air India chairman N Chandrasekaran said.
Wilson will continue to be with Scoot till June 15. He had started off as a management trainee with SIA in New Zealand in 1996. He then worked with SIA in Canada, Hong Kong and Japan, before returning to Singapore in 2011 as the founding CEO of Scoot, which he led until 2016. Later, Wilson also served as the senior vice president, sales and marketing, SIA, before returning for a second stint as the CEO of Scoot in April 2020.
“It is an honour to be selected to lead the iconic Air India and be a part of the highly-respected Tata Group. Air India is at the cusp of an exciting journey to become one of the best airlines in the world, offering world-class products and services with a distinct customer experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality. I am excited to join Air India and Tata colleagues in the mission of realising that ambition,” Wilson said.
Air India, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Air India Express, operates domestic and international passenger services, air cargo and charter services in India.
Earlier in March, Ayci, hailed for turning around Turkish Airlines, declined Tata Group’s offer to be Air India’s CEO and managing director, citing an “undesirable” narrative by a section of media. Ayci was seen close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is believed to be close to Pakistan.
Following this, Tata Sons had begun a global hunt for a new chief and even evaluated internal candidates, and had even asked management consulting and executive search firm Egon Zehnder and other head-hunters to find a replacement quickly.
Later in March, Tata Sons appointed N Chandrasekaran as the chairman of Air India. Chandrasekaran’s appointment gained importance as the group needed to iron out a number of issues at the carrier following its divestment, including appointment of pilots, upgrading existing fleet of aircraft and charting maps for co-existence with the group’s other aviation ventures. The most important agenda before the group is to turn the carrier profitable as early as possible.