AirAsia India close to appointing new head - sources

NEW DELHI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - AirAsia India is close to appointing an executive from Tata Steel Ltd to head the troubled low-cost carrier as its local partner, Tata Sons, moves to take greater control of the company, two sources aware of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Sunil Bhaskaran, who is currently vice president of corporate affairs at Tata Steel, has been chosen to head the airline - a joint venture between India’s autos-to-steel conglomerate Tata Sons and Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia Group Bhd.

AirAsia India did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bhaskaran could not immediately be reached.

AirAsia India has seen several high-profile exits in recent months and has been without a CEO for nearly six months. Bhaskaran’s appointment would also come at a time when the airline and some of its executives are being investigated for alleged wrongdoing.

Indian police in May filed a case against AirAsia Group, CEO Tony Fernandes and its domestic entity AirAsia India, over allegations of corruption and breaking rules in obtaining a flying licence.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accused the airline, some of its employees and third parties of violating India’s foreign direct investment rules while obtaining the licence, and of allegedly bribing government officials in an attempt to get regulations relaxed to allow AirAsia India to fly international routes.

AirAsia India has refuted the allegations of wrongdoing. (Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)