AI directors under-informed about Arora's credentials

The four independent directors of Air India had approved the management's decision to appoint Pawan Arora as chief operating officer of Air India Express, according to the minutes of the board meeting.

However, The Financial Express, which claims to have access the minutes, says they also reveal that these directors were not made fully aware of the background and record of Arora.

The independent directors - Mahindra & Mahindra vice-chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra, Ambuja Realty chairman Harsh Neotia, FICCI secretary-general Amit Mitra and former Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major - had met the prime minister's principal secretary T K A Nair on Monday to protest against the appointments. Apart from Arora, two senior executives were also appointed to the training and communications department.

The decision was taken despite additional secretary and financial advisor Bharat Bhushan suggesting that Air India should exercise extreme caution in adding to its workforce through new posts.

Aviation minister Praful Patel said the independent directors are scheduled to meet him in a couple of days, when the problems would be looked into. Air India's director (personnel) had also objected to the appointment, citing the high salary offered.

According to the minutes, Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav responded to Bharat Bhushan's queries saying, ''The bio-data of Arora was found very impressive by the panel formed to select the candidate. Besides having Air Force experience, he has logged over 5,000 hours as pilot in command on all versions of B737 aircraft.''