After being appointed as the new general manager of Romanian state-owned airline TAROM last week, Valentin Gvinda sent an email to TAROM bosses telling them that he did not want the job.
This latest upset for Romania’s oldest airline comes on the back of a political scandal following the dismissal of TAROM’s former general manager Madalina Mezei as reported by Romanian Insider.
The former airline boss claims that Romanian transport minister Razvan Cuc asked her to stop several domestic flights coming to Bucharest on the day when the Romanian Parliament was due to vote on a no-confidence motion against the current government.
Madalina Mezei wants to testify in front of anti-corruption prosecutors
She also said she would like to testify in front of prosecutors once the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) had started an investigation.
Transport Minister Cuc admitted to talking to the TAROM boss on the evening before the no-confidence vote was to take place but denied that he had asked her to stop fights carrying MPs from arriving in Bucharest.
Instead, Cuc claims that Mezei has concocted the story together with her husband and brother who also works for the airline. Cuc also insinuated that the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) may have had a part to play in the plot to discredit him.
During a press conference on Friday in front of the airline’s headquarters, Madalina Mezei accused the Transport Minister of asking her to prevent five domestic flights from arriving in Bucharest.
Mezei claims Cuc asked her to stop flights from arriving in Bucharest
“I told him this was impossible because we are not slave owners, we are a company of free people and the pilots would have never done this, no matter what I had told them. And, obviously, I couldn’t have asked this from the company’s employees,” she said, quoted by Romania’s Mediafax.
“The minister then asked me to identify the senators and deputies who were on board. I showed him and he told me he would contact me the next day to tell me his final decision,” Mezei added. “The next day, the minister called me and told me we must cancel one of the flights and that I should act on this,” she continued.
Mezei says she told Cuc that she did not have the authority to cancel the flights and that the minister told her to say they had mechanical problems which she again refused to do. A few days after the incident, she was dismissed from her post as the head of TAROM and not told why she was being let go.
Now, to tell his side of the story, Transport minister Razvan Cuc also held a press conference on Friday in which he denied Mezei’s claims while accusing her of serving political interests.
Rather than him going to see her on the evening ahead of the vote, Cuc claims she called to meet him and that they met on the street where she was accompanied by her brother who is a pilot with TAROM.
He admitted that he had asked about what MPs were booked on flights to arrive for the no-confidence vote, but says he only did so as to make sure there were no problems. He said he had heard rumors from opposition parties that he was trying to interfere with flights according to HotNews.ro.
“Mrs. Mezei came to me with all sorts of stories and told me that she had been contacted by someone from the SRI (Romanian Intelligence Service) who told her that some planes would be grounded. I told her: Madam, I don’t know and I don’t care,” minister Cuc said.
It is no surprise that Valentin Gvinda turned down the job
He also took the opportunity while talking to the press to accuse Mezei of delaying the acquisition of new aircraft and giving one of her relatives who works for TAROM a salary increase. Before being appointed TAROM manager in June of this year by, Cuc Mădălina Mezei had been the airline’s representative in Brussels.
Given the situation on the ground and the political scandal currently gripping Romania, it is no surprise that Valentin Gvinda turned down the chance of becoming the airline’s fifth manager in a single year.
The state-owned company has had 11 consecutive years of financial losses that Gvinda used as an excuse for not taking the job. She wrote an email that read,
“I inform you in this way that, after a brief analysis on the general status of TAROM, I decided not to sign the Mandate Contract. The telephone notification on this subject was transmitted on 17.10.2019, and today the official notification of the CA was presented with the presentation of the reasons that were the basis of my decision.”