After the initial debacle with the appointment of Ilker Ayci for the position of the CEO of Air India, Tata Sons has focussed on beefing up the management team and made several appointments. Today, it announced Campbell Wilson as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Managing Director (MD) of Air India. The Air India board approved the appointment of Wilson, which is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.
New Zealand-born Campbell Wilson (50) has 26 years of aviation industry expertise across full-service and low-cost airlines. He last served as the CEO of Scoot, the wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SIA), from where he has now stepped down and will be relieved of his duties by June 15.
Wilson started as a Management Trainee with Singapore Airlines in New Zealand in 1996. He then worked for Singapore Airlines in Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan before returning to Singapore in 2011 as the founding CEO of Scoot, which he led until 2016. Wilson then served as the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing of SIA, where he oversaw Pricing, Distribution, Commerce, Merchandising, Brand & Marketing, Global Sales, and the airline’s overseas offices before returning for a second stint as the CEO of Scoot in April 2020.
Commenting on the appointment of Wilson, 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.”
Speaking on the occasion, Campbell Wilson said: “It is an honor to be selected to lead the iconic Air India and be a part of the highly respected Tata Group. 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 realizing that ambition.”
Wilson will bring along with him the tremendous experience in working with a large scale airline to Air India. However, his experience has been primarily on the commercial side, and not on the operational side with respect to a full-service carrier (with reference to his time at Singapore Airlines). Needless to say, this appointment could signify that Tatas and Singapore Airlines could be working more closely, and SIA might eventually be also amenable to joining the cap table of Air India Limited as and when Vistara might be merged into Air India.
At Air India, one of the big challenges for Campbell will be to first find focus for the airline, and come up with a strategy, and find the right products for Air India for the turnaround of Air India. Expect a beeline of the OEMs to Air India’s offices in a few months, not just to sell aircraft, but to sell seats, IFE and everything else.
Scoot, in turn, will see Leslie Thng, current Senior Vice President, Sales, and Marketing, take over the reins as CEO. Leslie Thng recently returned from India after serving tenure as the CEO of Tata-Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara.
Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe.