HELP WANTED: Etihad Confirms They Need a New CEO and CFO

Etihad CEO James Hogan will be leaving the airline in the second half the year.

Hogan’s previous role was CEO of Gulf Air. At the end of his four year tenure there the carrier was de-emphasizing its Abu Dhabi hub, and he was hired away to build an independent airline based in the UAE capital. He had earlier run bmi British Midland, where many of his ideas running an airline got their start such as inflight chefs (for business class).

He built a major Gulf player, but also a loss-maker — while the airline certainly invests in passenger experience, its the carrier’s investments in airlines around the world that drove red ink and ultimately leads to his departure.

Primarily Etihad’s losses in air berlin and Alitalia are the key here, though Etihad has a broad portfolio of currently or previously troubled carriers they tried to turn around in order to direct traffic through their Abu Dhabi hub including minority stakes in Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Darwin Airline (now Etihad Regional) and Jet Airways (and previously Aer Lingus). They developed a strategy in some cases of exercising control without running afoul of foreign ownership rules by buying stakes in an airline’s loyalty program not subject to those caps.

The 60-year-old Australian will leave in the second half as Etihad reviews its own operations and the future direction of Hogan’s so-called equity alliance, which has seen the Gulf carrier take minority stakes in a variety of smaller and often ailing airlines across Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

“We must ensure that the airline is the right size and the right shape,” Etihad Aviation Group Chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei said in a statement Tuesday. “We must progress and adjust our airline equity partnerships even as we remain committed to the strategy.”

Etihad’s CFO will also be leaving with Hogan, and the two are expected to join “an investment company located outside the United Arab Emirates and not affiliated to Etihad.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Finally. Hogan is useless. Drove BMI into the ground. Same thing at Gulf Air. When Etihad arrived, he was in his element. Spending money like a mad-man and lining the pockets of his Aussie buddies in high paying Jobs although they too are equally as hopeless.

    Yes – the seats are nice. But the experience is not consistent. He is all about marketing flash with little substance.

    The inflight chefs and nannies are marketing tricks. The photo shoots and sponsorships of fashion shows are wasteful. The sponsorship of the football club in NY and sports in Washington has more to do with politics than anything.

    Hopefully no other airline will hire this guy as he will drive that airline into the ground as well.

  2. Interesting: I read in an Arabic paper this morning that the assessment planning is already in progress. Anyone here knows that would be ? ??

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