Development: New Air India CEO Will Be Mr. Ilker Ayci, The Former Chairman Of Turkish Airlines


There have been a lot of talks recently about who will take on the leadership of the newly privatized Air India and the person who is going to be the new CEO has now been named: Mr. Ilker Ayci, the former Chairman of Turkish Airlines.

One of the more prominent names that was swirling around for the job was Alex Cruz, former boss of British Airways but it seems like Air India dodged that bullet, and the new owners (Tata) chose Mr. Ayci.

The new Air India Chief Executive will certainly have his work cut out for him as it won’t be easy to steer the airline into profitability while keeping the peace within the company.

It was reported earlier this morning by the Hindustan Times that the former Turkish Airlines exec was the ultimate choice of the prominent Tata family, the new owners of Air India.

Air India will have a new chief executive and managing director in Ilker Ayci, former chairman of Turkish airlines, Tata Sons, the new owner of India’s flag carrier, said in a statement on Monday.

“Ilker is an aviation industry leader who led Turkish Airlines to its current success during his tenure there,” said N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, who was a special invitee at the board meeting when the decision was taken.

“We are delighted to welcome Ilker to the Tata Group where he will lead Air India into the new era.”

Ayci was born in Istanbul in 1971. He is a 1994 alumnus of Bilkent University’s department of political science and public administration. After a research stay on political science at the Leeds University in the UK in 1995, he completed an international relations master’s programme at the Marmara University in Istanbul in 1997.

“I am delighted and honoured to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group,” Ayci said after the announcement. “Working closely with my colleagues at Air India and the leadership of the Tata Group, we will utilize the strong heritage of Air India to make it one of the best airlines in the world with a uniquely superior flying experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality.”

Turkish Airlines underwent a very positive transformation to a premium carrier in the last 10-15 years so having someone from their executive management joining Air India will bring great energy and experience with turning a carrier around.

Here is the article I wrote up last week when it was rumored that Alex Cruz would take over:

Ex-British Airways Boss, Chief Penny Pincher Alex Cruz Rumored To Become CEO Of Air India

No matter who is the new CEO the job required for the overhaul of the airline will be demanding. Nothing really fits together with Air India right now. The fleet needs to be rearranged, staff cut and government relations will be a pain in the neck though this is likely managed by someone at Tata who has influence in these circles.


The former chairman of Turkish Airlines will be the new CEO of Air India as per the announcement of the new owners of the airline and a statement by Mr. Ayci himself.

Time will tell if it was a wise choice to continue with the Air India brand rather than starting a new airline. Usually established brand names are good to keep but it’s not like Air India is a brand that carries a very positive reputation. Let alone the problems and liabilities that come with the established carrier.

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