When reporting the sudden resignation last week of Cramer Ball as chief executive of India’s Jet Airways, India’s Economic Times wrote: “The airline attributed his resignation to ‘family reasons’.”
Alitalia quickly set the record straight, welcoming Ball as its new chief executive.
Ball, 48, an Australian with over 20 years experience in the industry, is a respected and well-known name with a career embracing senior positions at Ansett Australia, Etihad Airways, Gulf Air and Qantas as well as Air Seychelles before he joined Jet in October last year.
India’s Economic Times reported that “Ball’s exit came as a surprise as Jet had under his watch and aided by lower fuel prices, swung back to net profit in the April-June quarter of this financial year.”
Gaurang Shetty, who has been with Jet for nearly two decades, will become the carrier’s acting chief executive.
Ball has a sound track record of bringing carriers back to profitability, a skill which will be useful in his new role at Alitalia. Reuters called him a “turnaround expert”.
Ball will take the Alitalia reins in early March, succeeding Silvano Cassano who resigned in September after less than a year in the job.
Etihad Airways, a major shareholder in Virgin Australia, holds 49% of Alitalia as part of a EUR 1.76 billion-euro (USD 1.91 billion) rescue plan. Both Jet Airways and Air Seychelles are equity partners of Etihad.
Alitalia’s chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, said: “I believe Cramer is the right person to continue leading the development and implementation of our industrial plan which is now well in motion, with a target to make the company profitable in 2017. His proven abilities with transforming companies to success made him, among the many excellent candidates, the right choice for us.”
As chief executive of Jet Airways, Ball led the Mumbai-based airline to reduce substantial losses, putting the airline on track to turn a profit in the next year.
“Similarly at Air Seychelles, he led the company’s transformation into a profitable business,” Alitalia pointed out in a media statement.
Before his chief executive roles at Jet Airways and Air Seychelles, Ball was regional general manager South East Asia for Etihad Airways based in Bangkok and before that he was general manager Australia and New Zealand for the UAE’s national airline based in Sydney.
Ball performed a similar job for Gulf Air and he was also manager strategic corporate programs for Qantas and commercial sales manager for Ansett Australia.
Written by Peter Needham