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Campbell Wilson: 10 things to know about the new Air India boss

Campbell Wilson has 26 years of aviation industry expertise across both full service and low-cost airlines. He was appointed the CEO and MD of Air India on Thursday.

May 12, 2022 / 06:29 PM IST
Campbell Wilson

Campbell Wilson


Campbell Wilson, who was appointed as the new chief executive officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Air India by Tata Sons on Thursday

A supporter of environment sustainability, 50-year-old Wilson has 26 years of aviation industry expertise across both full service and low-cost airlines.

Here's 10 facts about his career, challenges ahead, views on sustainability, cryptocurrency and more:

Education

Wilson holds a Master of Commerce (1st Class Honours) in Business Administration from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

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Early career

Wilson started off as a management trainee with Singapore Airlines in New Zealand in 1996 and worked at the group for more than 15 years in Japan, Canada, and Hong Kong.

He was appointed vice-president of the airlines' operation in Canada in 2006. Later, he was appointed general manager of Hong Kong and then of Japan operations.

Return to Singapore

He then returned to Singapore in 2011 as the founding CEO of Scoot -- a fully-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, which he led until 2016.

Wilson then served as the Senior Vice President (Sales and Marketing) of SIA, where he oversaw pricing, distribution, e-commerce, merchandising, brand and marketing, global sales and the airline’s overseas offices, before returning for a second stint as the CEO of Scoot in April 2020.

Views on sustainability

Wilson is also an advocate of sustainability. While talking about Singapore Airlines Group’s annual sustainability reporting programme, he stated on the company website: "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."

"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," he said.

Comments on cryptocurrency

In March, commenting on the possibility of accepting cryptocurrency as payment for airfare, Wilson had said that its volatility was a concern.

"There is a huge wave of different payment types," Wilson told CNBC International TV. "And the diversity of what constitutes as payment ecosystems in one country is very different from another country. Keep pace with that is challenging enough. We don't want to add crypto to the mix is just too volatile."

On joining Air India

After Wilson's big Air India appointment, he said: “It is an honour 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 realising that ambition."

The second choice

Turkish Airlines boss Ilker Ayci was actually the Tata Group's first choice  as the Air India CEO, but he declined the offer on March 1.

Advantages over Ayci

"The experience which Wilson brings to the table looks to be more relevant than what Ayci could have got in and the added advantage of coming from a partner airline would make things simpler," the Tata Group stated.

Challenges ahead

As the new CEO, Wilson will have to deal with Air India’s net debt of around Rs 60,000 crore, modernise its fleet and rationalise its routes.  According to the Tata Sons, Wilson could help solve a complex puzzle which the group has inherited -- the challenge of operating two airlines, looking at the merger of AirAsia India and integrating it with the group and fitting Vistara to the mix.

While the last couple of years have seen the SIA group evolve in multiple ways, including cross selling inventory of its LCC and FSC arms -- earning miles, through check-in and everything needed to have a single priced ticket -- Air India has not been able to implement this.

His replacement at ScootWilson will leave Scoot on June 16 and will be replaced by Leslie Thng, who was until recently the CEO of Vistara, Bloomberg quoted a company statement Thursday.



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first published: May 12, 2022 04:06 pm
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