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Leader in the spotlight: Cramer Ball

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-06-2014 P.R. Sanjai

Who: Cramer Ball, 46, chief executive officer (CEO) of Jet Airways (India) Ltd.

Why: On 27 May, Jet Airways announced it had chosen Ball as its new CEO. His appointment comes at a time when the money-losing airline is preparing a three-year business plan to achieve profitability.

Background: Jet Airways has been without a full-time CEO since January and even its acting chief Ravishankar Gopalakrishnan resigned in April, becoming the fifth senior executive to quit since the airline sold a 24% stake to Etihad Airways PJSC last year. To add to this, Jet Airways posted its biggest-ever quarterly loss of `2,153.57 crore in the three months ended 31 March.

Experience: Ball, an Australian national, is a certified accountant with almost two decades of experience in the aviation industry. Earlier this year, he completed a two-year term as CEO of Air Seychelles, where he led a restructuring programme that returned the airline to profitability in 2012 and 2013. Ball’s appointment is subject to regulatory approvals.

Challenge: Jet Airways is struggling with high jet fuel prices, steep airport fees and intense competition amid slowing demand. The airline had logged a seventh straight annual loss in 2013-14 at `3,667 crore, more than seven times the `485.5 crore loss it reported in the previous year. In addition to competing with existing airlines such as IndiGo, Air India Ltd and SpiceJet Ltd, Ball has to take on two new airlines. Tata Sons Ltd has forged two joint ventures with AirAsia Group Bhd (for a budget airline) and Singapore Airlines Ltd (for a full-service airline). While AirAsia India has secured final approval, the Tata-Singapore Airlines venture is awaiting it.

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