Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways has, as expected, appointed former Gulf Air head James Hogan as its new chief executive, while another senior Gulf Air manager is set to oversee finance.

Hogan had been tipped to take the helm of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad after stepping down from Gulf Air at the end of September. His appointment is effective immediately.

Former Gulf Air corporate strategy head James Rigney is to be Etihad’s vice president of finance.

Until last year Abu Dhabi’s government was a shareholder in Gulf Air but withdrew to concentrate on developing Etihad Airways, the emirate’s rapidly developing long-haul carrier.

Etihad started operations less than three years ago but has built a network of 35 destinations and has a fleet of around 20 widebody aircraft, among them 10 Airbus A330s, three A340-500s and five Boeing 777-300ERs.

“While it is relatively young, Etihad has already established a reputation for energy and speed which are evident in its unprecedented growth and the development of its state-of-the-art fleet and product,” says Hogan. “I believe that we can build on these strengths to position Etihad as a leader in the international and local markets.”

Etihad Airways forecasts that it will transport four million passengers next year.

Formerly the chief of Ansett Australia, Hogan succeeds Geert Boven, who became the acting head of Etihad after the sudden resignation of Robert Strodel in May. Strodel left the airline less than a year after being named chief executive.

Etihad Airways chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al-Nahyan – himself a former chief of Gulf Air – highlights Hogan’s business experience in the Middle East, adding: “We believe he is the right person to drive the business forward and realise Etihad’s enormous potential alongside the finest world-class airlines.”

Source: FlightGlobal.com