By Neil Halligan
Douglas will start with the Abu Dhabi carrier in January 2018
Etihad Aviation Group on Thursday confirmed Tony Douglas as the new CEO, replacing Ray Gammell, who was appointed as interim boss in May this year.
Gammell replaced James Hogan, the former president and group CEO, who left the Abu Dhabi carrier on July 1.
Douglas joins Etihad Airways from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, where was CEO of the Defence Equipment and Support department, responsible for procuring and supporting all the equipment and services for the British Armed Forces.
The appointment as group CEO of Etihad Airways is a return to the emirate for Douglas, who was previously CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports (where he led the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone project) and CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports.
Prior to that, Douglas held senior positions with airport operator BAA, where he headed up the Heathrow Terminal 5 project as managing director, before being appointed CEO of Heathrow Airports.
He was also COO and group chief executive designate of construction firm Laing O’Rourke.
Chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, who confirmed the appointment, said Douglas would join the company in January 2018.
“We are delighted to have Tony return to Abu Dhabi to lead Etihad,” said Al Mazrouei.
“He has guided the transformation of large organisations in the UAE and the UK, and he understands the UAE and the region. He is also deeply knowledgeable about commercial aviation and keenly familiar with Etihad’s challenges and opportunities in a rapidly changing industry.”
As Group CEO, Douglas will “expand and implement a range of strategic initiatives to position Etihad for sustained success”, according to the company release.
“Etihad is a force in global aviation that must continue to adapt and evolve on its own and with industry partners,” said Douglas.
“It is an economic and employment engine for the UAE and the region. With new infrastructure and attractions like the expanded airport, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Global Market, Etihad has a central role in supporting the UAE’s position as a global hub of transportation, tourism, commerce, and culture.”
Ray Gammell will return to his position as group chief people and performance officer.
Douglas's predecessor, Australian James Hogan, stepped down in January after piloting the Gulf airline through more than 10 largely lucrative years.
Hogan was the architect of a strategy that saw Etihad buy equity stakes and make major investments in other airlines, notably Air Berlin and the long-struggling Alitalia.
But the Italian airline went into administration at the start of May as it struggles to compete with other low-cost carriers.
Gulf airlines have been dealt a number of blows in recent years, with the 2014 slump in crude prices hitting the regional economy hard and a US laptop ban on direct flights from countries including the UAE also impacting the sector earlier this year.
The diplomatic crisis shaking the Gulf, now in its fourth month, has also spilled over into regional aviation, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia shutting down travel to and from Qatar.
Etihad was launched in 2003 and has a fleet of 120 aircraft, with another 178 on order, serving 112 destinations.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.