Air India has appointed senior civil servant E. K. Bharat Bhushan as interim chairman and managing director to replace Raghu Menon, who has been eased out after only a year in charge.

Bhushan, who is the Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, takes charge with immediate effect until the government appoints a new head at National Aviation Company of India (Nacil), Air India's parent company. The state-owned airline confirmed his appointment in a statement, but did not provide a reason for the change.

A source close to Air India says that Menon was replaced due to "serious differences" with civil aviation minister Praful Patel. According to various Indian newspapers, these centred around the slow pace of integration with Indian Airlines, the carrier that merged with Air India in 2007 to form Nacil.

The company's finances are also a worry, with some reports saying that it needed more money from the government to pay for its operations and new Boeing and Airbus passenger aircraft that had been ordered before the merger. Menon's opposition to a proposed joint venture with Singapore Airport Terminal Services (SATS) for ground handling services was cited as a possible reason as well.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news