The longtime chief executive of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Aviation Group, which owns one of the Middle East’s top airlines, will leave this year as the group reviews its strategy in a challenging market, Etihad said on Tuesday.
James Hogan will step down as president and CEO of the group in the second half of 2017. After joining the company in 2006, Hogan played key roles in making minority equity investments in Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, airberlin, Alitalia, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia.
Chief financial officer James Rigney will also leave later this year, Etihad said.
Both will join an investment company, Etihad said in a statement sent out to the media without giving details. But the carrier said it was looking forward to Hogan’s “continued association with Abu Dhabi in new ways.”
Etihad said a global search for a new Group CEO and a new Group CFO is already underway.
Chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei said the airline, which has seven equity partnerships with other carriers around the world, would “progress and adjust” those links.
“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,” Al Mazrouei said in the statement.
“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 added.
In December last year, Etihad Airways said it was cutting jobs in some parts of its business as a part of its restructuring.
An Etihad Airways spokesman said that a majority of those affected by the headcount reduction are through “natural attrition” and the vacancies will not be filled. He declined to comment on the number of jobs affected.
Gulf carriers, which have expanded rapidly in recent years, are struggling now because the drop in crude prices have led to oil companies, typically big customers for Gulf carriers, cutting back on travel.
(With inputs from Reuters)