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Ashwani Lohani deboards Air India; Bansal to be interim CMD

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The government has moved Ashwani Lohani, hailed as a turnaround specialist, from the now operationally profitable Air India to the Railway Board as its chairman, while giving interim charge of the national carrier to senior IAS officer Rajiv Bansal. Lohani replaces A K Mital at Railway Board at a time when the country’s largest transporter has faced two back-to-back derailments, including one where more than 20 passengers died, and for which Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu took “full moral responsibility”.

While Lohani has been associated with railways in the past, his successor at Air India Bansal also spent nearly two years at the civil aviation ministry between 2006 and 2008. Bansal has been appointed as the chairman and managing director of Air India for three months. Presently, he is additional secretary and financial advisor at the petroleum ministry. Bansal is taking over as Air India CMD at a time when the government is working on the modalities for the disinvestment of the loss-making national carrier.