A slew of senior executives at Etihad Airways is expected to leave the Abu Dhabi-based airline in the wake of chief executive Tony Douglas’ resignation, unnamed sources have told Arabian Business.
It is widely believed that Douglas is leaving Etihad Airways after being poached by the Saudis to help start a new international airline in Riyadh with the aim to take on the likes of Emirates and Qatar Airways and supercharge the Kingdom’s tourism industry.
The airline, which is being referred to by the working name of RIA or Riyadh International Airlines, is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund with an initial budget of US $30 billion.
The Saudis want to get RIA up and running at breakneck speed and have been impressed with Douglas’ efforts to turn the debt-laden Etihad Airways around. Etihad reported recently reported its first profitable quarter for the first time in six years.
According to anonymous sources cited by Arabian Business, at least three more senior executives from Etihad Airways are set to join Douglas at RIA. The publication first reported the news that Douglas have been poached by RIA.
Douglas has not publicly confirmed whether he will be taking the helm at RIA, but Abu Dhabi’s ADQ investment fund announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving Etihad to “pursue an opportunity elsewhere”.
Douglas will be replaced by Antonoaldo Neves, former chief executive and board member at Portugal’s flag carrier TAP.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.