Etihad-linked Jet hires ex-Air New Zealand CEO

Gary Toomey will replace Nikos Kardassis at Indian airline, which has sold 24% stake to Etihad

India’s Jet Airways, in which Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways recently bought a 24 percent stake, has hired ex Air New Zealand boss Gary Kenneth Toomey as its new CEO.

Former Jet Airways boss Nikos Kardassis resigned on June 5, less than two months after the $370m sale to Etihad.

Mumbai-based Jet said in a statement that chief operating officer Hameed Ali would continue in his role as acting CEO until Australian Toomey’s appointment was approved by Indian regulators. Toomey has previously also worked as deputy CEO and chief financial officer at Australia’s Qantas Airways.

Etihad agreed to acquire the shareholding in Jet, which has made a loss for the last six consecutive years, following a decision by the Indian government to allow foreign airlines to acquire stakes of up to 49 percent in domestic carriers.

The deal is however still subject to the approval of regulators. India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on June 14 deferred a decision on the acquisition, which will also need to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. A statement from the FIPB did not indicate when talks will resume.

When it is eventually cleared, the purchase will give 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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