Tata Sons, on Thursday, announced Campbell Wilson as the new MD and CEO of Air India. The airline board has okayed this subject to required regulatory approvals. 

Wilson, 50, is currently the CEO of Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SIA). He’s over 26 years of experience in the aviation industry working for budget and full-service companies. 

Air India chairman, N. Chandrasekaran said, “I am delighted to welcome Campbell to Air India. He is an industry veteran having worked in key global markets cutting across multiple functions. Further, Air India would benefit from his added experience of having built an airline brand in Asia. I look forward to working with him in building a world-class airline”, as per The Hindu. 

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Wilson said, “It is honour to be selected to lead the iconic Air India and be a part of the highly respected Tata Group”, adding, “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. I am excited to join Air India and Tata colleagues in the mission of realising that ambition.” 

Here are some changes Air India could see under Campbell Wilson as CEO. 

Push to sustainability 

Wilson advocates sustainability, as seen on the Singapore Airlines Group’s company website, where he’s said “This commitment to do the right thing extends to the area of sustainability, including environmental sustainability. It is the right thing to do; we only have one planet Earth”, adding, “Secondly, it is increasingly, and rightly, expected of us – by customers, by staff, by shareholders and by the public at large. And thirdly, it is good business; reducing emissions and waste improves efficiency”. 

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Even before the new CEO, Air India had taken steps towards sustainability, getting awarded for its contribution to reducing carbon emissions in 2015, and taking environment-friendly initiatives like the Recycle Green Project in 2017, which aimed at reducing air pollution from burning dry waste and reducing carbon dioxide emissions

With Wilson’s motivated approach the company’s corporate social responsibilities and operational changes are likely to become more environmentally conscious. 

Fleet, routes, and money – Air India’s operations 

Wilson has his work cut out for him since the new CEO will have to deal with Air India’s net debt, which is around Rs 60,000 crore. He’s also spoken earlier about his views of airlines accepting cryptocurrency as payment. 

He’d told CNBC International TV “There is a huge wave of different payment types”, but added, “don’t want to add crypto to the mix is just too volatile.” 

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Thus, Air India is not likely to see a new form of payment introduced just yet. Moreover, Wilson will be more focused on modernizing the company’s fleet and rationalising its flight routes. 

Since its acquisition, Tata has been focused on increasing the company’s fleet size, finding issues with the 787 fleet or aircrafts. Air India’s routes have always been an issue weighing on the company, ever since the government decided to promote private airlines. Due to agreements with some places not letting more than two of a nation’s airline companies operate, either Indian Airlines or Air India was asked to cease, giving a chance to a private player instead. Either way, the company suffered. Some routes like those to North America and Europe were also found to be loss-making in terms of operation cost against occupancy, as per a 2017 Business Standard report. 

With Wilson at the helm, the company could be looking to turn the situation around. 

The Tata integration 

One of the biggest challenges the Tatas have faced since acquiring Air India is the issue of integration. Wilson would be expected to handle the AirAsia merger with Air India, and integrate services with the other Tata-owned airline – Vistara

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Wilson, during his time at the SIA group, has seen it evolve to cross-sell inventories of its LCC and FSC arms, earning miles through check-ins, and everything else required for a single priced ticket. 

Air India hasn’t yet been able to implement this, but with Wilson’s experience, the move could soon become a reality for the airline company.