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Jet Airways' new CEO Gary Toomey faces big challenges

Apart from creating synergies between Jet and Etihad Airways, Gary K. Toomey has to steer the airline through a bitterly domestic competitive market where low-cost Malaysian airline AirAsia is expected to enter the skies soon.

twitter-logoManu Kaushik | June 14, 2013 | Updated 07:42 IST

Manu Kaushik
Manu Kaushik
Following the departure of Nikos Kardassis last week, Jet Airways on Thursday (June 13) appointed Gary K. Toomey, 58, as its new CEO. Toomey, an Australian, had previously served as president and CEO of the Air New Zealand Group. He has spent more than 20 years in the aviation industry working in senior positions in airlines such as Qantas and Airlines of Papua New Guinea, apart from Air New Zealand.

The challenge for Toomey will be to create synergies between Jet and the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, which acquired a 24 per cent stake in Jet in April for Rs 2,058 crore, the biggest foreign investment in the Indian aviation sector after the government allowed foreign carriers to invest in Indian carriers last year. Toomey has a daunting task ahead. Taking on competitors such as IndiGo and SpiceJet, whose financials are in a far better state than Jet's, will not be easy. With low-cost Malaysian airline AirAsia also expected to enter Indian skies, experts are already predicting a bloodbath in which only the fittest will survive.

Kardassis quit after nearly 43 months with Jet Airways. He was a personal favourite of Jet Airways Founder-Chairman Naresh Goyal. Kardassis took some bold steps to reduce losses by focusing on profitable routes and cutting down loss-making ones. But he was unable to make the company profitable - Jet has been posting net losses for the last five financial years.

Goyal himself too is an aviation industry legend. He began as a cashier but has risen to become one of the most influential people in this sector. It is said that one stage Goyal knew by heart the departure timing of every flight in India.

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