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Hogan and Rigney to depart Etihad in second half of year

January 25, 2017 Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

Group chief executive of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, and chief financial officer James Rigney, will step down and depart in the second half of the year.

The Etihad Aviation Group board of directors yesterday confirmed that Hogan would step down as president and chief executive of the company in the second half of 2017.

The board and 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, a statement by Etihad said yesterday.

Commenting on 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 10 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.”

Hogan said that “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.”

H.E. Mazrouei added that “to position the company for continued success in a challenging market”, the board and management team would continue an ongoing, company-wide strategic review.

“We must ensure that the airline is the right size and the right shape,” he said.  “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.”

Hogan’s equity alliance strategy has seen the Gulf carrier take minority stakes in various smaller airlines across Europe and the Asia-Pacific, including airberlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional. Etihad purchased a shareholding in Virgin Australia Holdings in 2012 and now holds 19.9%.

Last month, Etihad Airways unveiled plans to create a new European leisure airline group in a joint venture with TUI AG. A new codeshare agreement with Lufthansa and an aircraft leasing agreement between airberlin and Lufthansa were also announced.

Etihad also confirmed that Rigney would leave the company later this year and that a global search for a new group chief executive and a new group chief financial officer was already underway.

A report by news agency Bloomberg said that Rigney would join Hogan at an investment company located outside the United Arab Emirates and not affiliated to Etihad.

The Etihad group’s senior management structure includes Peter Baumgartner, chief executive, and Richard Hill, chief operating officer, of Etihad Airways; Bruno Matheu as chief executive of Airline Equity Partners; and Jeff Wilkinson as chief executive of Etihad Airways Engineering.  Darren Peisley is Acting Managing Director of Hala, the company’s destination marketing and global loyalty unit. A further strengthening of the Group structure was announced earlier this month with the creation of Etihad Airport Services led by Managing Director Chris Youlten.

In addition, the Group Chiefs leading the core corporate functions include Kevin Knight, Strategy and Planning; Ray Gammell, People and Performance; Rob Webb, Technology and Innovation; and Harsh Mohan, Executive Affairs.

Reports have been circulating for weeks that a strategy review by Etihad could lead to Hogan’s departure. The airline announced in December it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs. It did not indicate where the cuts would occur.

“Etihad Airways is operating in an increasingly competitive landscape, against a backdrop of weakened global economic conditions,” the airline said in a statement at that time. 

German business daily Handelsblatt reported in December that “multiple independent sources” speaking on condition of anonymity had said that a shakeup was pending that could lead to Hogan’s departure.

Contacted in December by Global Travel Media about the Handelsblatt story, a spokesman for Etihad Aviation Group said only: “We do not comment on unsubstantiated rumours in the marketplace.” See: Etihad review of strategy ‘could involve shakeup’

Speaking at the 19th Annual Global Airfinance Conference in Dublin last week, Hogan said Etihad Aviation Group’s partnership strategy had been a core element of the growth of the business, resulting in 5.5 million passengers connecting onto the Etihad Airways network from codeshares and partners in 2016, delivering revenue and synergy benefits.

“Our investments had an immediate impact on the revenue side, delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues and allowing us to fill our onward connecting flights,” Hogan said.

“Those benefits have been replicated in all our minority investments – in airberlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional.

“We also believed our minority investments would unlock an additional advantage that the global alliances were simply unable to use.  Because we had ’skin in the game’, we could work on joint procurement and other business synergies which would save us – and our partners – hundreds of millions of dollars. Again, we have seen similar benefits from each of our investments, with those synergies being shared by all the partners.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Peter says:

    The group is full of Australians in senior roles.

  2. AgentGerko says:

    Round One to Emirates.

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