On Tuesday, Etihad Aviation Group announced that its president and CEO James Hogan will leave the company he helped build.
According to the Abu Dhabi-based airline and aviation conglomerate, Hogan — along with CFO James Rigney will leave Etihad in the second half of 2017 to join an, as yet unnamed, investment firm.
“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,” Hogan said in a statement.
“The last decade has seen incredible results but this only represents a first chapter in the story of Etihad.”
Rumours of Hogan’s departure surfaced in late 2016 after the company experienced heavy losses to due to the CEO’s global expansion strategy that saw Etihad make expensive equity investments in more than half a dozen airlines around the world.
Over the past few years, Hogan has embarked on a equity acquisition spree that has seen Etihad take substantial ownership stakes in “partner airlines”Alitalia, Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles, and Etihad Regional.
In September 2016, the partner airlines along with Etihad Airways and its accompanying subsidiaries were reconfigured to form Etihad Aviation Group.
Hogan, 60, joined Etihad Airways in 2006 and has presided over the airline’s incredible growth from an upstart regional player with 22 aircraft to a global power with more than 120 aircraft and another 204 on order. Including the partner airlines, Etihad Aviation Group owns equity in a fleet of more than 700 aircraft.
Prior to his arrival at Etihad, the Australian served as CEO of Bahrain-based Gulf Air.
In addition, Etihad has garnered critical acclaim for its high standard of service and is one of just nine airlines to received a five-star rating for consumer aviation website Skytrax.
However, Etihad’s critics in Europe and the US allege that much of the airline’s explosive growth and plush appointments can be attributed to billions of dollars of subsidies from the Abu Dhabi government. These are allegations that Hogan has repeatedly denied.