James Hogan and the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad that he grew to become the second force in Middle East aviation in an action packed decade have each turned the page onto new but separate chapters in their stories.
This is part of the announcement that has been in the works since a management reoganisation that took shape last May.
The Etihad Aviation Group Board of Directors today announced that James Hogan will step down as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company in the second half of 2017. The Board and Mr. Hogan first initiated the transition process last year with the formation in May of the Etihad Aviation Group, a diversified global aviation and travel organisation.
Commenting on Mr. Hogan’s time at Etihad, H.E. Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of the Etihad Aviation Group said: “We are very grateful to James. In just ten years, he has overseen the growth of the company from a 22 plane regional carrier into a 120 aircraft global airline and aviation group, with seven airline equity partnerships which together serve more than 120 million guests every year. It is a business which has set new benchmarks for service and innovation. Under his leadership, the company has provided new opportunities for thousands of Emiratis and has been a critical element in the remarkable progress of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. We look forward to James’ continued association with Abu Dhabi in new ways.”
James Hogan commented: “Along with the Board and my 26,000 colleagues, I am very proud of what we have built together at Etihad and of the company’s substantial contribution to the UAE and to the development of Abu Dhabi. The last decade has seen incredible results but this only represents a first chapter in the story of Etihad.”
Commenting on current priorities for the business, H.E. Mazrouei said: “To position the company for continued success in a challenging market, the Board and management team will continue an ongoing, company-wide strategic review. 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.”
There have been a few bumps along the way recently. An investment in Airberlin failed to work as required and Etihad has been putting in place a new partnership with the major German carrier, Lufthansa, that doesn’t involve equity on its part.
It’s clear that an investment in Alitalia also needs work, or maybe the medical equivalent of a heart lung transplant. Or maybe something as severe as being dissolved, althought Etihad has never used that word, at least not in public. A new codeshare agreement with Lufthansa and an aircraft leasing agreement between airberlin and Lufthansa were also announced. As a minority shareholder, Etihad is actively participating in the next phase of Alitalia’s restructuring plan.
Mr Hogan will join an investment company along with Etihad Aviation Group CFO James Rigney, who will also leave the company later this year. A global search for a new Group CEO and a new Group CFO is already underway.
As an equity partner in Virgin Australia Holdings, and with strategic codeshares, with the Australian carrier over the now being extensively rebuilt Abu Dhabi hub, Etihad has become a very high quality competitor to Dubai based Emirates and its much larger and more extensive code share with Qantas.