Flybe today put a new pilot in its corporate cockpit, hiring a former easyJet boss to attempt to steer the struggling airline to calmer skies.
The regional airline’s founder and current chief executive Jim French will become non-executive chairman in August, when Saad Hammad, easyJet’s former chief commercial officer, will take over as chief executive.
Hammad was at the orange budget airline from October 2005 to April 2009, and has since been managing director at private-equity firm Gores Group.
He also spent a year on the board of Air Berlin.
French said the new Flybe boss would “bring a wealth of industry experience as well as a track record of leadership and board positions across a range of public and private businesses”.
Last month Flybe slumped to a £40.6 million pre-tax loss, from £6.2 million a year earlier, due to lower demand for domestic flights, higher fuel bills and airport charges.
That was despite massive cost-cutting including axing 490 jobs and trimming pilots’ salaries by up to 5%.
The carrier pulled out of Gatwick earlier this year, selling all its 25 daily slots at the airport to easyJet for £20 million. It’s planning on cutting £50 million-worth of costs a year from 2014.
Hammad said: “Flybe is making excellent progress on its turnaround plan.
“The business is once again ‘fit to compete’ and, with further opportunities to drive its competitive advantages, I look forward to leading Flybe into a new and exciting era.”