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Airline Flybe names former easyJet executive as CEO

(Reuters) - Europe's largest regional airline Flybe Group Plc said it named Saad Hammad, a former executive at rival easyJet and Air Berlin , as chief executive, sending its shares up 10 percent.

Faced with soaring fuel costs, falling passenger counts and higher airport charges, Flybe has undergone a major restructuring -- axing 590 jobs and pledging to quit its main London hub at Gatwick airport.

"(Flybe) has adopted a strategy that is increasingly akin to that of a low-cost carrier, such as an easyJet or a Ryanair. I think Hammad will continue the execution of that new approach," Charles Stanley Securities analyst Douglas McNeil said.

Hammad, who is set to take the reins on August 1, was British low-cost carrier easyJet's chief commercial officer from October 2005 to April 2009. He also served as a non-executive director of Air Berlin, the second largest airline in Germany, between May 2011 and October 2012.

Flybe, Europe's largest regional airline, said in January it expected to break even in the fiscal year ending March 2014.

Hammad takes over from Jim French, who will become non-executive chairman, Flybe said in a statement.

Shares in Flybe, which flies to nearly a 100 airports throughout Europe - from Aberdeen to Zurich - were up 8 percent at 50 pence at 6.12 a.m. ET on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu and Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

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