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No clear reason was given for Hammad’s departure but a clue will likely be found in the company’s upcoming first-half results.

The CEO of European regional airline Flybe has stood down with immediate effect.

No explicit reason has been given for the shock departure of Saad Hammad, although an announcement by the company said that both parties believed it was the right time for a change.

Non-executive Chairman Simon Laffin will assume the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis.

A reason for Hammad’s exit could yet be revealed when the company reports its half-year results on November 9.

Since joining the company in August 2013, Hammad has enjoyed something of a rollercoaster ride.

When he took over, the airline was running out of cash and needed drastic changes to keep it afloat.

Hammad cut 1,000 jobs, dropped routes and closed bases. He also sought to remodel the carrier’s fleet by removing larger Embraer jets and replacing them with smaller Bombardier aircraft.

Under his leadership the share price more than doubled to around $1.83 (£1.50) before falling back. Today it stands at just $0.48 (£0.40).

In its last set of full-year results Flybe made a pre-tax profit of $3.3 million (£2.7 million).

According to the most recent set of full-year statistics, Flybe is the fourth largest airline in the UK, behind EasyJet, British Airways and Thomson Airways.

Simon Laffin, executive chairman, said: “The board would like to thank Saad for his energy and drive which has been a major contributor towards Flybe’s transformation over the last three years.  He mapped out a clear vision for the Group and led it to a significantly stronger position.  We wish him well for his next challenge.

“Whilst the whole aviation industry faces a challenging market environment, Flybe remains well-placed. Our strategy remains to focus on regional routes and to provide an excellent service to our customers.”

Hammad said: “I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last three years with a major turnaround in Flybe. Now is the right time for me to move on to a fresh challenge. I would like to thank all company employees for their hard work, passion and commitment and wish them all the best.”

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Tags: airlines, flybe

Photo credit: A Flybe aircraft. The airline's CEO has stepped down. Gerard van der Schaaf / Flickr

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