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Air India Removes Executive Director For In-Flight Services

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Mumbai: In a surprise move, the divestment-bound Air India has removed its executive director (ED) for in-flight services AS Soman from the post allegedly due to some internal squabbling, reports PTI.

In an order issued late last week, Air India chairman and managing director Rajiv Bansal directed Soman to take charge of as ED, HQ, with immediate effect.

Though no official reason has been cited for the surprising removal, which is the second for Soman in as many years, an insider said the transfer was due to some recurring tiffs between operations and in-flight services departments.

The Air India spokesman was not available for comment. AK Govil, who is the ED for operations now, has been given the additional role that Soman was handling, according to the order reviewed by PTI.

Soman was made the ED of in-flight services from the training department during a major rejig at the state-owned carrier this March, after the then ED, operations, AK Kathpalia was grounded for evading both pre and post-flight alcohol tests and subsequently, Govil was brought to the operations department from the in-flight services.

Interestingly, this is the second time in the past two years that Soman’s tenure at a particular post was cut short. In July 2015, he was removed as head of safety on the instructions from the regulator DGCA for failing to preserve flight monitoring data.

In another development, according to an airline official, the crucial crew management system (CMS) has been brought under the control of the ED, integration, which till now was reporting to the ED, operations. The CMS is an integrated tool for crew planning, including of the pilots, depending on the network plan and commercial schedule.

Air India’s services are quite complex, compared to its peers, consisting of international, domestic, regional (Alliance Air) and LCC (AI Express) operations. Besides harmonising and enhancing crew utilisation and productivity across the entire fleet of different types of aircraft, CMS provides a stable duty roster and online platform for communication between the crew members including the pilots.

The system also enables real-time monitoring and tracking of the crew from a central location and help recover from disruptions quickly.

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