Aviation minister reviewing top appointments in Air India

Vayalar Ravi, the new civil aviation minister, is in the process of reviewing all high-profile appointments in ailing national flag-carrier Air India, that were approved by erstwhile aviation minister, Praful Patel.

The national carrier had appointed chief operating officer (COO) Gustav Baldauf, chief training officer Stefan Sukumar and Air India Express chief operating officer Pawan Arora last year offering average salary package of around Rs8 crore annually.

These controversial appointments have raised questions regarding the need for such expensive hires, especially at a time when the ailing airline is unable to even pay salaries to its employees.

Meanwhile, Air India, in a departure from the normal practice of payment on the first of every month, paid January salaries to its employees yesterday.

On Friday, the airline let go Pawan Arora on orders from Ravi and the next in line is expected to be Baldauf.

According to sources, the minister is awaiting a report from a panel looking into the "expensive" hires and Baldauf's head could be the next in line.