Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan to quit as carrier struggles with investments

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Dubai, UAE: James Hogan plans to stand down as chief executive officer of Etihad Airways in the second half, as the Abu Dhabi-based carrier struggles to wring a profit from its investments in Germany and Italy.

The Australian has run the second-biggest Persian Gulf carrier for a decade, carving out a unique business model based around minority stakes in a variety of airlines across Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Chief financial officer James Rigney will also quit to join Hogan at an investment company, Etihad said in statement on Monday, without elaborating. A global search for a new CEO and CFO is already underway, according to the company, which added that it intends to stand by ailing partners Air Berlin Plc and Alitalia SpA.

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

Etihad is undergoing a company-wide strategic review to position it for success in a “challenging market,” Al Mazrouei said.

Hogan took the helm at Etihad Airways in 2006, before transitioning to group CEO last year. He has eschewed global airline alliances in favor of stakes in carriers including India’s Jet Airways and Virgin Australia in a bid to catch up with longer-established Gulf rivals Emirates of Dubai and Qatar Airways.