James Hogan, founding CEO of Etihad, was bounced from that carrier in 2017 after buying stakes in troubled airlines around the world and mounting losses that reached as high as $2 billion a year. These investments included stakes in air berlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia. Now he appears on the verge of returning to aviation.
He’s been spotted in Podgorica, consulting with Montenegro’s Minister of Finance on the formation of a new national airline. Montenegro Airlines liquidated last month, the victim of losses, mismanagement, and a scandal involving free travel for government officials. The country promised it would be replaced by new carrier 2 Montenegro.
Hogan has experience in the former Yugoslavia, having controlled Air Serbia through Etihad’s 49% controlling stake and partnership with Serbia’s government, as well as Etihad’s former codeshare with Montenegro Airlines itself.
Hogan started his career at Ansett Australia, spent 13 years at Hertz and eventually became Chief Operating Officer of british midland and the CEO of Gulf Air.
While at Gulf Air, the governments that owned the carrier had a falling out. Qatar and Oman had been owners, and Bahrain and the UAE had row that led to Gulf Air dropping its UAE hub and James Hogan being hired by the Al Nahyan family to launch Etihad from their country’s capital.
Hogan then built Abu Dhabi into a global hub, a mere 72 miles from more economically-important Dubai, redirecting connecting traffic from its partners through the UAE capital city.
Should Montenegro Airlines (or ‘2 Montenegro’) hire Hogan, it would be to launch a carrier more similar to Air Serbia minus the long haul route to the U.S., than to start a new Etihad. The previous state airline was a small Embraer 195 operator. My own guess is that while Hogan might be involved, it would be in a more limited capacity than CEO – the project is just too small to interest him as a full-time occupation.
(HT: Jakov Faginger)