In what could add to the delays in the issue of a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to AirAsia India, the civil aviation ministry has decided to examine the issue of ‘conflict of interest’ pertaining to the chairman of the airline S Ramadorai and his current role in a Prime Minister’s committee.
Two government officials confirmed that the conflict of interest between Ramadorai’s current role in the government committee versus his role as the airline’s chairman will be reviewed. Ramadorai’s candidature has currently gone for security clearance.
“We have decided to examine the conflict of interest Ramadorai’s chairmanship position in a government committee would have. We will start the process only after the home ministry accords security clearance to him,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official.
Any such procedure is set to delay the issuing of NOC to the airline, which is required for the airline to apply for a flying permit with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Ramadorai was appointed the non-executive chairman of AirAsia India in June this year and his name for subsequently sent for security clearance to the civil aviation ministry last week.
The airline applied for security clearance to Ramadorai only after they were told that all directors on the board of the company will require security clearance.
The conflict of interest for Ramadorai arose, as he is an advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since January 2011.
As an advisor in the National Skill Development Council, headed by the Prime Minister, he holds the rank of a Cabinet minister. Ramadorai also holds the position of chairman of Tata Elxsi and vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), even though these positions do not raise any conflict of interest with his new job as chairman of AirAsia India.
AirAsia India, which applied for an airline licence from the aviation ministry in April, has received the home ministry’s clearance for AirAsia global CEO Tony Fernandes; R Venkatraman, a former executive assistant to Ratan Tata; Bharat Vasani, chief legal counsel of the Tata group, and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace.
The delays in the clearances is likely to impact the launch date of the airline, which plans to start operation by November this year with three aircraft and add one each every month thereafter.