NEW DELHI: A frontrunner candidate for Air Indias Director Operations post has come under criticism from certain section of the airline for his past record of siding with unions against the national carrier. According to sources, the current Executive Director for Operations Captain R.S. Sandhu has in the past been allegedly hand-in-glove with a particular pilots’ union.
“He was terminated once due to his close association with one of the pilots’ unions. He had sided with this union during a strike. Now as a member of senior management, how can we trust him not to repeat the past incident,” sources said adding that he is one of the frontrunner candidate for the post.
“After the strike, he was reinstated back but only after a deal was struck between the management and the union. These past incidents are serious and must not be ignored.” The event in reference is from 2011, when a pilots’ union of erstwhile Indian Airlines’ went to strike.
Subsequently, Sandhu was terminated as a deputy general manager operations in April 2011, when he openly sided with the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots’ demand to get parity with those from IPG.
However, in May after a settlement was reached between the union and the airline, Sandhu was re-instated. Interestingly, this past incident among some others have been in public knowledge but it is only now that some quarters of the airline have started to speak about these.
Nevertheless, another source in the airline said the post of Director Operations is vacant since March-end and the selection process has been stalled due to the pandemic and airline’s divestment process.
“Therefore, no recruitment to this position is taking place as of now,” the second source said. Last year in December, Ministry of Civil Aviation had invited application for three director-level posts including that of Director (Operations).
At present, executive director-level officials are officiating these positions. Till March, Captain Amitabh Singh was officiating as operations director. In 2018, Captain A. K. Kathpalia was removed from this post, after his alcohol direction test results came positive after operating a flight.
As a result, his flying licence was suspended for three years. The post in question is both coveted and controversial as the incumbent is always under scanner of all the employees, the second source added.