Troubled national carrier Air India might have landed a real scoop as a variety of media is reporting that former British Airways CEO Alex Cruz is in line to lead the Indian airline in the years to come.
It’s hard to say who is hit hardest with this development should it be true but sometimes it’s also destiny that two parties find each other – for better or for worse.
Alex Cruz’s tenure at British Airways was surrounded by turmoil and some argue he turned BA into a budget carrier, cutting costs and benefits wherever possible much to the displeasure of customers and the staff.
At the same time, British Airways was embroiled in several system meltdowns and data breaches for which the carrier had to pay out many millions in court settlements and fines. Mr. Cruz apparently never deemed it necessary to beef up the companies investment into a more reliable IT structure.
Now the Times of India reports he’s about to take the helm at Air India.
NEW DELHI: Air India may get Alex Cruz, an aviation veteran with rich experience of heading both full service and low cost airlines, as its CEO. Cruz, 55, was chairman and CEO of British Airways for about five years till 2020 and before that he headed Spanish low cost Vueling.
Pandemic-hit BA had in October 2020 cut 13,000 jobs. At that time, Cruz had stepped down as the airline’s chief executive and then a transition period gave up as chairman too.
Comments from Tatas on Cruz selection have been sought and are awaited.
The Tata Group last week took over AI and is learnt to be finalising a team of top notch professionals to revive the airline, a clearly uphill task. The new board of AI is likely to be led by Tata Group chairman N Chandrasekaran himself. …
Turning Air India around will be a massive undertaking and for once even Alex Cruz wouldn’t be able to destroy any more of what’s left of the airline at this point.
Like him or hate him, at least Mr. Cruz knows how to handle a carrier with a lot of forces pushing against him and it’s obvious why he would be one of the top picks for Tata to lead the carrier. It’s unlikely that a local CEO who is connected to and influenced by politicians and business people would get a lot done with the carrier as far as a change in business structure and company spirit is concerned.
John wrote about the Air India / Tata takeover last week:
Something similar was done with Malaysia Airlines where two foreigners were hired as CEO to clear house at the carrier. There was plenty of opposition and their tenure didn’t last very long, they got a decent payout after they managed to slim down the airline and then went back to Europe.
I would imagine it to be a similar job over at Air India. A local manager would likely become very unpopular nationally when he becomes famous for smashing Air India to bits and there might be a certain risk attached to that as well. Even though the responsibility lies with Tata, in the end it’s the face of the CEO in the newspapers.
It very much looks as if Alex Cruz becomes the next Chief Executive of Air India to lead the airline and oversee the restructuring of the carrier that just last month was taken over again by Tata, the original founders of the airline.
Definitely not an easy assignment, both given the tasks ahead of him and residing in India in the first place although doing so as a multi-millionaire and one of the countries top executives will certainly make it bearable. Let’s see how this news turns out and if there will be an official confirmation of Mr. Cruz’s appointment in the coming week.