James Hogan to step down as CEO at Etihad
Australian built Etihad into an aggressive competitor to Emirates and Qatar Airways
Australian James Hogan president and CEO of Etihad Aviation Group will step down in the second half of 2017. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)
The veteran chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Aviation, which owns one of the Middle East’s top airlines, will leave this year, but the carrier remains committed to a system of equity alliances that he developed, Etihad said on Tuesday.
Australian James Hogan, 60, who over the past 10 years built Etihad into an aggressive competitor to Dubai’s Emirates and Qatar Airways, will step down as president and chief executive of the group in the second half of 2017. Chief financial officer James Rigney will also leave this year,
Etihad’s chairman, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel al-Mazrouei, said Etihad was continuing a “company-wide strategic review” which could include adjustments to the network of equity partnerships with other carriers that Hogan used to engineer rapid growth at Etihad.
“We must ensure that the airline is the right size and the right shape. We must continue to improve cost efficiency, productivity and revenue. We must progress and adjust our airline equity partnerships even as we remain committed to the strategy,” he said.
However, an Etihad spokesman told Reuters there was no link between the review and Hogan’s departure, which had been planned for many months.
Etihad owns stakes in seven airlines around the world: Air Berlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional, India’s Jet Airways and Virgin Australia. In 10 years, Etihad grew from a 22-plane regional carrier into a global operation with 120 aircraft. But in recent months, a slowing regional economy, overcapacity in the industry and a strong US dollar have pressured its earnings. Company and industry sources told Reuters in December that Etihad was reviewing its policy of investing in European airlines after continued losses at Air Berlin and Alitalia. That month, Etihad said it was cutting jobs in some parts of its business, but did not give a number.
On Tuesday, Etihad said it had started a global search for a new group chief executive and a new chief financial officer. It said it was grateful to Hogan and that he and Rigney would join an investment company, which it did not name.