Former Etihad Airways chief executive Robert Strodel, who helped both the airline's cargo and passenger divisions get off the ground, has died suddenly.

Strodel, a cargo specialist, had a 33-year career with Lufthansa, which he joined in 1968, latterly setting up Lufthansa Cargo India.

He left as managing director of the Indian operation in 2001 to set up his own aviation consultancy before joining Etihad as head of cargo in April 2004, just six months after the fledgling Abu Dhabi airline began operations.

He was promoted to become the passenger airline's first chief executive in July 2005, leaving in May the following year.

His subsequent posts included chief executive at India's Flyington Freighters and working as a consultant to Russia's AirBridge Cargo.

A statement from Etihad said that it had learned of the death of Strodel, an Austrian national, "with sadness. Robert's contribution to our business in its start-up phase will be remembered by those who worked alongside him."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news