After the sudden exit of V P Agrawal who held the post for five years, Alok Sinha, a Joint Secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry, took over as the acting AAI Chairman on January 24.
Agrawal, who still has one-and-a-half years of service left, had risen from the AAI ranks to head the airports body.
Sinha, who handles airport-related matters in the Ministry, was given additional charge of the post till a full-time chief was found.
As per the PESB, the AAI Chairman would be appionted for a period of five years or till the date of superannuation, whichever is earlier. Applications have been invited till May 21 from government officers as well as chiefs of public sector units for the post, official sources said.
Agarwal, whose term ended in December last year, had been asked to continue in the post from January one till further orders, but was removed 23 days later.
His tenure saw the modernisation of a large number of major airports as also that of several non-metro ones, besides the joint development of India's satellite-based navigation system GAGAN, which would be operationalised by June-July.
Agrawal's exit came at a time when the government was on a fast-track mode to privatise six airports, modernised by the AAI at a cost of several thousand crore rupees from the public exchequer.
Government had last September allowed private parties to pick up 100 per cent equity in operation and management of these airports at Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Lucknow through public-private partnership.
The privatisation move was not only opposed by AAI unions but also by the parliamentary Standing Committee headed by senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, who had said that "undue haste" was being shown in the process which was a "great disservice" to the nation and had sought an explanation from the government.