Ilker Ayci, former Turkish Airlines chairman, has declined the role of of the chief executive of Tata’s Air India, a Tata spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday. Ayci was appointed last month to lead the debt-laden airlines by the Tata group. “I have come to the conclusion that it would not be a feasible or an honourable decision to accept the position…," Ayci said in a statement seen by Bloomberg.

He was expected to take charge of the airline on or before April 1, according to press release.

Ayci, a Turkish national, was born in Istanbul in 1971. He led Turkish Airlines from 2015 to end of January 2022. Ayci was also an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he was mayor of Istanbul between 1994-1998. During this time, Aycı had held several positions in the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

His appointment was opposed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch. “It would not be a feasible or an honourable decision to accept the position in the shadow of such a narrative," he said in a letter, according to Bloomberg.

His appointment was subject to security clearance from the ministry of home affairs. The home ministry has recently told that it has not yet received any communication in this matter from Ayci, the Tata Group, its nodal agency, or the civil aviation ministry. Once this comes, the security clearance process will begin, they informed, according to PTI.

Ayci is also on the board of the Turkish Football Federation, Turkish Airlines Sports Club and TFF Sportif Anonim Sirketi and Member of The Canadian Turkish Business Council and a Member of the US-Turkey Business Council, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After the announcement of his CEO appointment, Ayci said: “I am delighted and honoured to accept the privilege of leading an iconic airline and to join the Tata Group. Working closely with my colleagues at Air India and the leadership of the Tata Group, we will utilise the strong heritage of Air India to make it one of the best airlines in the world with a uniquely superior flying experience that reflects Indian warmth and hospitality.”

Air India Went Back To Tata After 69 Years

On January 27, the central government handed over Air India to the Tata Group, nearly 69 years after it was taken from the conglomerate. N. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons Pvt. Ltd, said Tata group is excited to have Air India back and is committed to making it a world-class airline.

In October, Tata group emerged as the winning bidder for the debt-laden airlines, beating a consortium led by SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh. Tata group holding company, through Talace, submitted the winning bid of ₹18,000 crore as the enterprise value of Air India against a reserve price of ₹12,906 crore.