Pradeep Singh Kharola, CMD, Air India has been appointed as the Civil Aviation secretary in what has been dubbed as a minor top-level bureaucratic reshuffle. He takes charge in place of Rajiv Nayan Choubey, who superannuated on January 31 and took charge as a member of UPSC.

Pradeep Singh Kharola
Secretary, MoCA

He assumes the position at a challenging time when the aviation infrastructure is under considerable stress, hard-pressed by a rapid growth in the passenger count. The domestic aviation market witnessed a 20 per cent growth in numbers on a y-o-y basis. There are other bottlenecks as well. The need for safety and security of the Indian skies is an issue demanding urgent and unequivocal attention. On the international front, most of the bilateral flying rights are nearing exhaustion, meanwhile, countries are pressing for additional slots.

What must come in handy is his extensive prior exposure to the sector and his management of the debt-ridden national carrier. Balancing the passenger growth with a commensurate infrastructure will be his biggest challenge up front. From an industry perspective, it bodes well for aviation stakeholders too as the ministry is expected be better aware of the existing pain-points.

A 1985-batch IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre, Kharola had been given the charge of the national carrier in November 2017.