New Delhi: Air India's first COO Capt Gustav Baldauf resigned on Monday and he was relieved with immediate effect, just days after he was asked to explain his reported remarks about political interference in the state-owned airline's day-to-day affairs.
An Air India spokesman said tonight that Baldauf's resignation has been accepted and the Chief Operating Officer was relieved with immediate effect. Baldauf, an Austrian national, was appointed as a COO for a three-year term from April one last.
Sources said that Baldauf, who is the most senior expat to be hired by Air India, was not entitled to any severance package since he has quit on his own. The sources also said that he is expected to leave for the Austrian capital Vienna tomorrow.
Airline officials told PTI that Baldauf gave one month's notice today to quit the ailing national carrier from April one.
Baldauf's resignation followed a show-cause notice served on him on Wednesday asking him to explain his remarks that it was a difficult environment to work in with the government playing "too prominent a role in the (airline's) operations".
"When you call someone from outside, let him work. The government should control but let him work. It should not be involved in day-to-day operations," he was quoted as saying.
Baldauf had earlier worked for 25 years in senior capacities in several airlines including Jet Airways and Austrian Airlines.
Following his remarks which the airline had taken serious note of, he had a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi where the issue was understood to have figured.
Baldauf had also expressed annoyance at the removal of Capt Pawan Arora as the COO of AI's low cost carrier 'Air India Express', saying it would affect the turnaround plan of the ailing national carrier.
After bringing in Baldauf, the Air India Board had appointed Arora as also Stefan Sukumar as the Chief Training Officer on a hefty pay package. Sukumar had put in his papers recently after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had raised objections to the status of license as CTO.
Baldauf was appointed at an annual salary package of Rs 3 crore with the mandate to implement Air India's turnaround plan.
Taking a tough line, the Civil Aviation Minister has made it clear that the ministry would evaluate the performance of Air India's top management by carrying out their performance review on a regular basis.
With a market share of 15.8 per cent in January this year, down from 18 per cent in the same period last year, the flag carrier today stands at the fourth position after Jet Airways, Kingfisher and budget carrier IndiGo.