He said his appointment to the position was ‘coloured’ by Indian media.
Turkey’s Ilker Ayci has declined the offer to be the chief executive officer (CEO) of Tata Group’s Air India, days after the announcement of his appointment led to opposition from some groups in India.
“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 according to Bloomberg, citing an emailed press release.
On February 14, Tata Sons, which recently took over debt-ridden Air India in a $2.4 billion equity and debt deal, had announced the appointment of the former chairman of Turkish Airlines, Ayci as the CEO and MD of Air India, as it tries to revamp itself after being sold to the Tata Group.
Air India was handed back to its founders, the Tata group, in January, almost seven decades after it was nationalized, capping years of struggle by the government to sell the struggling airline. It was a homecoming for Air India which began operations as Tata Air Services in 1932, before it was nationalized in 1953.
After the announcement of his appointment, Ilker Ayci had said, “I am delighted and honoured to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group. Working closely with my colleagues at Air India and the leadership of the Tata Group, we will utilize the strong heritage of Air India to make it one of the best airlines in the world with a uniquely superior flying experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality”.
Soon after the announcement of his appointment, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), had urged the government not to give clearance to the appointment of Ilker Ayci “keeping in view national security”.
SJM’s co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan told PTI: “We feel that government should not give its permission (to Ayci’s appointment) keeping in view national security. I think the government is already sensitive to the issue and has taken up the matter very seriously. I don’t think the government will approve it”.
Ayci, 51, had been the Turkish Airlines chairman since April 2015 and recently resigned from the position in January this year. He was supposed to assume his new responsibilities on or before April 1 this year. His appointment was subject to requisite regulatory approvals.
Istanbul-born Ayci, is an alumnus of Turkey’s Bilkent University, and the UK’s Leeds University. He also holds an International Relations Master’s degree from Turkey’s Marmara University. He was also on the board of the Turkish Football Federation, Turkish Airlines Sports Club and TFF Sportif Anonim Sirketi and Member of The Canadian Turkish Business Council and a Member of the US-Turkey Business Council, according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to his Bloomberg profile, Ayci has held senior positions in several companies, like Gunes Ekspres Havacilik AS that operates Turkish-German airline SunExpress, and Turkish insurance provider Gunes Sigorta Insurance Co, among others.