December 17, 2015 / 11:48 AM / 4 years ago

Alitalia appoints Cramer Ball as new CEO

People walk in the Alitalia departure hall during a strike by Italy's national airline Alitalia workers at Fiumicino international airport in Rome, Italy July 24, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files

MILAN (Reuters) - Loss-making Italian airline Alitalia said on Thursday it had appointed aviation industry turnaround expert Cramer Ball as its new chief executive.

Ball, who joins from India’s Jet Airways(JET.NS), is expected to take up his new role in early March, succeeding Silvano Cassano who resigned in September after less than a year in the job for what the company said were personal reasons.

Cassano was picked when Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in Alitalia as part of a 1.76 billion-euro ($1.91 billion) rescue plan.

Ball, 48, has spent more than 20 years in the industry and is expected to pilot Alitalia’s return to profitability by 2017, a target the airline confirmed on Thursday.

As CEO of Jet Airways, which he joined in 2014, and before that as CEO of Air Seychelles, he helped bring both airlines back on track to profitability, Alitalia said.

Both Jet Airways and Air Seychelles are equity partners of Etihad, and prior to joining Air Seychelles Ball was a regional general manager for the Abu Dhabi-based carrier.

($1 = 0.9217 euros)

Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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