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Jet Airways Hires Former Air New Zealand CEO to Lead Carrier

Jet Airways (India) Ltd. named Gary Kenneth Toomey as its chief executive officer to succeed Nikos Kardassis, who resigned less than two months after the carrier agreed to sell a stake to Etihad Airways PJSC.

Toomey, 58, previously was the CEO of Air New Zealand Ltd. and Airlines of Papua New Guinea Ltd., Mumbai-based Jet Airways said in a statement yesterday. Chief Operating Officer Hameed Ali will continue as acting chief executive till the Australian national’s appointment is approved by regulators, it said.

The new CEO will face rising competition as AirAsia Bhd., the region’s biggest discount carrier, enters Indian market later this year. Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal in April agreed to sell a 24 percent stake to Abu Dhabi’s Etihad as he seeks funds following six years of losses at his company.

Toomey’s experience in domestic and international airline operations will help in the “next phase of our development,” Goyal said in the statement. Toomey also worked as deputy chief executive officer and chief financial officer at Qantas Airways Ltd., according to the statement.

Jet Airways rose as much as 7.9 percent to 464.80 rupees and changed hands at 452.40 rupees at 9:23 a.m. in Mumbai. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex advanced 0.9 percent.

Kardassis, who became Jet Airways CEO for a second time in October 2009, resigned with effect from June 5. Jet Airways didn’t give a reason for his resignation.

Aviation Rules

Jet Airways in April agreed to sell its stake to Etihad after India eased aviation investment rules in September to allow foreign carriers to own as much as a 49 percent stake in local airlines. In March, AirAsia formed a venture with Tata Group to set up a local low-fare airline. The Malaysian company aims to start its Indian operations in September.

Jet Airways plans to order more aircraft in an effort to regain market share from discount carriers. The company is considering an order for Boeing Co. 737 planes, K.G. Vishwanath, the carrier’s vice president of commercial strategy, told analysts in a conference call May 27.

The carrier last month posted a wider-than-estimated fourth-quarter loss of 4.96 billion rupees ($85 million) because of higher aircraft lease costs and a one-time expense.

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