Etihad-backed Jet says CEO has stepped down

Indian airline says Nikos Kardassis has resigned two months after Etihad stake sale deal

The CEO of India's Jet Airways has resigned less than two months after it sold a 24 percent stake to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad.

The carrier said in a statement to the Indian stock market that Nikos Kardassis had stepped down from his role with effect from June 5.

It added that Hameed Ali, who is chief operating officer of the company, will be the acting CEO until a new CEO is appointed.

"The board recognises the significant contributions made by Mr Kardassis over five years to enable the company to secure its leadership position in the Aviation Industry and greatly appreciates his efforts," the airline said in the statement.

The new CEO faces a challenge to end six years of losses and pare debt at Jet Airways. Chairman Naresh Goyal in April agreed to sell a 24 percent stake to Etihad as he seeks funds needed to pay for expansion.

Etihad's investment is the first by an overseas operator in an existing Indian carrier since the country relaxed ownership rules in September to allow foreign carriers to buy up to 49 percent in local airlines, which face stiff competition and high operating costs.

It gives Etihad a bigger foothold in fast-growing India and provide Jet, the country's largest carrier, with a deep-pocketed global partner as well as cash to retire debt that totalled $2.1bn at the end of December.

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