Media and attendees gather in the shade of a AirAsia airbus aircraft. (Photographer: Charles Pertwee/Bloomberg) 

AirAsia India Appoints Sunil Bhaskaran As MD And CEO

AirAsia India today announced the appointment of Tata group veteran Sunil Bhaskaran as chief executive officer and managing director as the airline prepares to expand its operations.

The carrier, which currently has a fleet of 19 planes, is a joint venture between the Tatas and Malaysia's AirAsia Berhad.

Bhaskaran's appointment will be effective from Nov. 15, AirAsia India said in its release. He was the vice president of corporate services at Tata Steel and has over three decades of experience in the fields of manufacturing, export and commercial operations with the Tata group.

He would be the third CEO and MD of the Bengaluru-headquartered AirAsia India, which started operations in June 2014.

He would "oversee the next phase of expansion and growth of the company", the release said.

Bhaskaran would replace Amar Abrol, who stepped down from the position in June to join back the parent company AirAsia in Malyasia.

"We are delighted to welcome Bhaskaran as the new CEO and MD of AirAsia India," AirAsia India Chairman S Ramadorai said.

With India's aviation sector growing at a rapid pace, Ramadorai also expressed confidence that his extensive experience, ability to drive performance and work seamlessly with all stakeholders would be a great asset for AirAsia India.

"I am thankful to the board and the shareholders (Tata Sons and AirAsia Bhd) for meeting with the shortlisted candidates in arriving at the unanimous selection of Bhaskaran," Ramadorai said.

Bhaskaran's appointment is being seen as Tatas enhancing its control in the airline, which is facing stiff competition in the fast growing Indian aviation market. There have been reports that AirAsia Berhad was looking to have its nominee at the helm of AirAsia India.

Bhaskaran joined Tata Steel in 1987 and has held several senior positions in the Tata group. He is also on the Global Advisory Board of Social Accountability International, New York. He completed his B Tech from IIT, Delhi in 1985 and did post graduation in management from IIM, Kolkata in 1987.

Tata Sons and AirAsia Berhad hold 49 percent each in AirAsia India. The remaining two percent stake is held by Ramadorai and R Venkataramanan, who is a non-executive director at the domestic airline, and has been associated with Tatas for a long time.