The man with possibly the toughest job in aviation, Air India CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson believes with the backing of owners Tata Group the airline can once again be an airline that makes a nation proud.
He’s given himself five years to turn the airline around from a debt-ridden carrier to one that “represents India in a way that India deserves to be represented around the world”.
Wilson is used to taking on tough challenges. He was previously the founding member and chief executive of Singapore Airlines wholly-owned subsidiary Scoot, which is now a well-established low-cost carrier.
When he moved to Air India in June this year, Wilson promised, “Air India is at the cusp of an exciting journey to become one of the best airlines in the world, offering world-class products and services with a distinct customer experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality.”
Campbell Wilson says rebuilding Air India will be done in phases.
In the first stage of recovery, Tata group is reported to be working on streamlining its airline business and will be having a single low-cost carrier under the Air India Express brand after merging with AirAsia India. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
Wilson told The Times of India that the airline is being rebuilt in three phases – taxiing, take-off and climb.
In the first “taxiing” phase, AI wants to change “all the things that tarnish or continue to tarnish the brand.”
The second “take off” phase will see accelerated investment in systems, processes, people and equipment, including aircraft, “that will be necessary to bring AI to the heights we aspire for it”.
“By the end of year five (third phase) we hope to go from very good by then to ultimately world class,” Wilson said, adding, “All of us right from the board and through the organisation realise this is once in a lifetime opportunity to build an AI that represents India in a way that India deserves to be represented around the world.”