New Delhi– Air India pilots have asked the management to immediately replace the airline’s Commercial Director Meenakshi Malik who is heading a consortium bidding for the national carrier.

In a letter to Rajiv Bansal, Air India, Chairman and Managing Director, the pilots’ associations said Malik should be replaced along with any other key management employee bidders holding such sensitive positions.

The letter by Indian Pilots’ Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association said that an office order directs all participating employees to inform Headquarters and expressly forbids them from handling any policy or strategic matter with a direct or indirect bearing on the disinvestment of Air India.

“We note that the very head of this management consortium, the current Commercial Director, Ms Meenakshi Malik, has not yet come under the purview of this office order. She has been quite vocal in the media in the last few days, so her intent to bid for Air India should not come as a surprise to anyone,” the pilots said.

Air India pilots’ said that Malik has access to insider information and there is a conflict of interest.

“In her position as the head of the commercial department, it is clear that she has access to insider information about our entire network and business plan, both current as well as the future. In fact, her decisions as head of the commercial department directly affect the health of the airline and consequently its market worth to potential bidders. There is a gaping conflict of interest here,” the pilots said.

They have alleged that potential misuse of information to sabotage the airline cannot be overlooked.

“If she does justice to her current role as Commercial Director of Air India, the airline does well and generates more market interest as well as direct competition for her bid for the disinvestment. Alternatively, the potential misuse of insider information to actively sabotage the functioning of the airline and stave off market interest cannot be overlooked. We are certain that you appreciate this Catch-22 situation and have therefore issued the office order in the larger interest of the airline,” the pilots said.

“At this very crucial juncture we do not have the luxury of relinquishing our responsibilities as the national carrier. To see us through these volatile times, it is best if all horses pull in the same direction. We therefore strongly urge you to follow through this office order in letter and spirit and immediately replace her as well as any other key management employee bidders holding such sensitive positions,” they added. (IANS)