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Etihad Airways sets new CEO deadline, may join late 2017

A source aware of the matter said that a new group CEO has been hired and would be joining after three months, without giving a name

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi, Dubai: Etihad Airways has delayed the appointment of its new group chief executive to late 2017 with the hiring of a new boss nearly finalised, the airline said on Monday.

In May, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad appointed executive Ray Gammell as interim Group CEO to replace veteran CEO James Hogan who left on July 1. At the time, Etihad said it was in the “advanced stages” of hiring a permanent successor and would make an announcement “in the next few weeks”.

A source aware of the matter said a new group CEO has been hired and would be joining after three months, without giving a name. The source declined to be named as the matter is not yet public.

“The recruitment of a new Etihad Aviation Group CEO is reaching its conclusion with the successful candidate expected to start no later than the beginning of 2018,” an Etihad spokesman said in a statement.

The new CEO faces challenges as Etihad grapples with issues relating to its investments in troubled airlines, which contributed to the state-owned carrier reporting in July its first loss since 2010.

That loss included an $808 million impairment associated to investments in other airlines, mainly Italy’s Alitalia and Germany’s Air Berlin.

Etihad began a companywide review last year that has seen funding pulled from Alitalia and Air Berlin, and a stake sold in a third European carrier, Darwin Regional.

Alitalia and Air Berlin have both filed for administration this year.

Etihad continues to hold minority stakes in six airlines from Australia to Europe, including Alitalia and Air Berlin.

The new group CEO would likely have to confront a campaign in the US calling for the US government to take action against Gulf carriers, including Etihad, over allegations they are state subsidised. The Gulf carriers deny the allegations.

Bankrupt Air Berlin targets September sale

Frankfurt Am Main: Insolvent German airline Air Berlin hopes to complete its sale by September, the group’s chief executive said, as government officials fended off accusations of favouring Lufthansa in the bankruptcy process.

“We want to settle the sale in September at the latest, otherwise customers’ trust in the airline will vanish,” chief executive Thomas Winkelmann told newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Lufthansa — which already leases 38 of Air Berlin’s 140 planes — could buy up to 70 aircraft with as many as 3,000 crew for its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings, Bild reported. “I would welcome Lufthansa taking over larger parts of Air Berlin,” Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries told business daily Handelsblatt on Monday, while adding that it was up to the airlines to negotiate a deal between themselves.

Other interested airlines cited in media reports include package holiday firm TUI, British low-cost carrier easyJet and Thomas Cook subsidiary Condor.

Pugnacious Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary claimed last week that Lufthansa has enjoyed an unfair advantage in the scramble for chunks of the business, especially valuable landing slots at major German airports.