NEW DELHI: Ilker Ayci, who was all set to steer the newly privatised Air India, has declined the offer of Tata Sons to be the airline's MD and Chief executive officer (CEO). Since his name was announced by the Tata Group, there were wide speculations that the Indian government would go through a rigorous process to give Ayci, former chairman of Turkish Airlines, necessary clearances owing to his close ties with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
"I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honourable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such a narrative," Ayci said in a statement seen by Bloomberg.
He added, "My appointment at Air India within Tata Group was announced earlier in February, with a start date of April 1st. Since the announcement, I have been carefully following news in some sections of the Indian media attempting to color my appointment with undesirable colors."
He also said, "As a business leader who has always prioritized professional credo and more importantly, the happiness and well being of my family above all else, I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honorable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such narrative."
Tata Sons on February 14 had announced the appointment of Ilker Ayci as the CEO and Managing Director (MD) of Air India. He was supposed to assume his responsibilities on or before April 1, 2022.
On February 20, PTI reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs will "scrupulously" carry out a thorough background check of the newly appointed CEO and MD of Air India. The report said, "The Home Ministry carries out a thorough background check of all foreign nationals when they are appointed in the key positions of any Indian company."
Known as a close aide of President Erdoğan, Ayci served Turkish Airlines as its chairman from 2015 to 2022. He was often credited for turning around Turkish Airlines and making it a global brand.