Sunil Arora, the chairman and managing director of Indian Airlines, took on the additional role of managing director at sister state-owned carrier Air-India in August.
Arora replaces JN Gogoi who has retired. Gogoi was due to have retired early this year but had his term extended for six months until the end of July.
Observers believe Arora's appointment will help with longstanding efforts to rationalise the operations of the two carriers, which have separate boards and management teams. However the politically sensitive issue of merging the two airlines is not likely, as it is vehemently opposed by labour groups. Gogoi himself told Airline Business earlier this year that "merging is a physical impossibility".
"Both the airlines have grown in such a manner where the physical merging is not possible. You can't merge one company with another and have one rule for all employees - it's just not possible," he said. "But what is probably possible is synergising both companies, where you rationalise your routes so you don't compete with each other."
Air-India focuses on international operations while Indian Airlines operates domestic services as well as regional international services.
Arora, a veteran government official, took over as full-time chairman and managing director of Indian Airlines last year, after holding the posts on an interim basis for nearly two years.
The government last year hired management consulting firm AT Kearney to draw up a long-term business plan for the two airlines.
NICHOLAS IONIDES SINGAPORE
Source: Airline Business