Etihad Trims Management Team Amid Restructuring

Etihad Airways is taking a decisive move to help streamline the business into a leaner and flatter airline. Four senior members of the management team at the Abu Dhabi-based airline are leaving. Following their departures, there will be a reshuffle of roles and responsibilities at the carrier. Etihad says the changes will help to tackle the challenges of flying in 2020.

Four senior Etihad managers are leaving the airline. Photo: Etihad

Four departures from Etihad’s senior management team

Leaving the airline is Chief Commercial Officer Robin Kamark. After a long career at SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Mr Kamark has held the CCO role at Etihad for just over two years. Also departing is Sales and Distribution Senior Vice President, Duncan Bureau. Mr Bureau’s stint in the Gulf was short, just 18 months. He cut his airline industry teeth at Air Canada and WestJet.

The third senior management departure at Etihad is Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, Mutaz Saleh. The former PwC partner went to Etihad in May 2019. Finally, Chief Transformation Officer Akram Alam is also heading for the exit. Mr Alam was with Etihad for nearly two and a half years.

“As a responsible business, we can no longer continue to incrementally adapt to a marketplace that we believe has changed for the foreseeable future,” says Etihad CEO, Tony Douglas, in a statement issued on Sunday.

“That is why we are taking definitive and decisive action to adjust our business and position ourselves proudly as a mid-sized carrier.

“The first stage of this is an operational model change that will see us restructure our senior leadership team and our organization to allow us to continue delivering on our mandate.”

No more incremental changes says Etihad boss, Tony Douglas. Photo: Etihad

Etihad reins in the costs and streamlines the business

The thinning of the management ranks at Etihad comes on the back of a US$758 million loss over the first six months of 2020. That took accrued losses at Etihad for the last half-decade to over $6 billion.

Etihad has long had a reputation as a big-spending, high-cost operation. The airline has been trying to rein that in more recently. The 2020 travel downturn has highlighted the risks in Etihad’s old free-wheeling operating strategy. Now, the airline is trying to transition into what it calls “a mid-sized, full-service carrier concentrating on its fleet of widebody aircraft with a leaner, flatter, and scaleable organizational structure that supports organic growth.”

CEO, Tony Douglas is staying in the hot seat at Etihad. Also keeping their positions at the airline are Chief Digital Officer Frank Meyer, Chief Engineering Officer Abdul Khaliq Saeed, and Chief Investments Officer Andrew Macfarlane.

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Roles are getting reshuffled and surviving managers worked harder. Photo: Etihad

The surviving management team worked harder than ever

Current Managing Director for Cargo and Logistics, Martin Drew, will also take on Duncan Bureau’s old job. We will report directly to Chief Operating Officer, Mohammad Al Bulooki.

Mr Al Bulooki, Chief Financial Officer, Adam Boukadida, and Executive Director Guest Experience, Brand, and Marketing, Terry Daly, will between them take on Robin Kamark’s responsibilities, with the Chief Commercial Officer role ceasing to exist.

Adam Boukadida will also take on many of  Akram Alami’s and  Mutaz Saleh’s former responsibilities at Etihad.

What’s clear is that while the senior management ranks at Etihad are being thinned, those keeping their job will be worked harder than ever before. According to Mr Douglas, the streamlining of senior management ranks is necessary to ensure the ongoing sustainability of Etihad Airways.

“I must express my gratitude to each member of the team for continually proving our adaptability to the most unexpected of circumstances.”