Michael Thamm has served as President of AIDA Cruises since June 2004; is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Cruise Council; and was named North European Cruise Personality of the Year 2011, an award selected by Seatrade and V. Ships. Photo: AIDA Cruises

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Carnival Corp. (CCL) named a new head of its Costa group–the operator of the Concordia vessel that grounded off the coast of Italy in January–as the current chief retires.

The company said Pier Luigi Foschi will retire as the Costa group’s chief executive effective July 1 as part of a long-term succession plan, which included his scheduled retirement at 65, the age he is now.

Michael Thamm, currently serving as president of Germany-based AIDA Cruises, has been appointed CEO of the Costa group, which includes Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Spanish operator Ibero Cruises. Thamm also will serve on Costa’s board.

Foschi, while retiring from his position as Costa CEO, will remain chairman and managing director of the Costa group and remain on the board of directors of Carnival. In his role as Costa’s chairman, Foschi will continue to oversee the company’s government relations, matters related to the Costa Concordia accident and spearhead a number of strategic projects, the company said.

Carnival Chairman and Chief Executive Micky Arison said Foschi “has made it known for some time that he intended to retire once he turned 65,” adding that Foschi helped develop Costa into “a very successful and profitable organization.”

During Carnival’s annual general meeting earlier this month, Arison thanked Foschi and his management team for their “amazing efforts” related to the Costa Concordia incident and its aftermath.

At least 30 people died in the Concordia crash, which forced Carnival and other cruise operators to pull marketing right as the key “wave season” for cruise reservations began. Though the fallout from the crash has weighed on the cruise sector at large, Carnival and smaller competitor Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) have both said bookings declines are abating from the sharp drops immediately after the grounding.

Shares of Carnival were down 1.2% at $31.31 in recent trading in the midst of a wide market downturn.

-By Joan E. Solsman, Dow Jones Newswires

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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