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A Top Etihad Airways Executive Has Been Accused of Setting Up a Fake LinkedIn Profile to ‘Talk Trash’ About Rivals

A Top Etihad Airways Executive Has Been Accused of Setting Up a Fake LinkedIn Profile to ‘Talk Trash’ About Rivals

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A top executive at Etihad Airways has been accused of setting up a fake LinkedIn profile which was used to self-promote the success of the Abu Dhabi-based airline and the executive in question, as well as ‘talk trash’ about rivals and solicit rival airline leaders into discussing their career prospects.

The LinkedIn profile was quickly deleted after the revelations were made public and covered by View From the Wing on Monday, with Etihad’s chief revenue and commercial officer, Arik De, under the spotlight as to whether he had any involvement in creating or using the fake profile.

The profile used the name Ivander Sebastien, who masqueraded as the chief customer and experience officer at Ethiopian Airlines. There is, however, no such record of a person with that name holding that position at Ethiopian Airlines.

The LinkedIn profile also listed Ivander Sebastien as previously holding positions at Australian flag carrier Qantas, South America’s LATAM and Spanish airline Iberia. Again, there is no evidence to suggest this person ever held this position.

The alleged fraud came to light when Willy Boulter, the current chief commercial officer at Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo wrote a lengthy post of his own on LinkedIn which called out an unnamed ‘certain Chief Officer at a Middle East airline’.

“It seems a certain Chief Officer at a Middle East airline has created (or had another person create for him) a false LI [LinkedIn] identity to promote his reputation and gather information in a rather, shall we say, underhand way,” Boulter wrote.

“The fraudulent profile is one “Ivander Sebastien” (already “outed” by another savvy colleague of ours) and has been used to engage me and others in the industry about our career aspirations and similar subjects.”

Boulter continued: “Actually, this Ivander character has only one reliable feature – that he frequently and consistently mentions what a wonderful job his creator is doing”.

As well as trying to allegedly offer Boulter a non-existent job and then suggesting Boulter retire, the person behind the fake LinkedIn profile most often talked up how well Etihad Airways, with the assistance of Arik De.

In one post, the person behind the fake profile praised the performance of the existing team leadership at Etihad, while simultaneously ‘trash talking’ the previous management team.

“Amazing to see the turnaround,” the post read. “Etihad was an airline for 18 years that made losses with teams that did not know what they were doing. It is really incredible to see what has been done over the past 2 years.”

Another post read: “Arik, I love the marketing materials coming from @Etihad since you have taken over brand and marketing. Your love for destinations and routes is very clear. I like this new direction.”

And in a third post, Arik was once again praised: “Well done Arik De. So many good things being done at Etihad these days.”

In other posts, the profile criticises the performance of other airlines, including Canada’s WestJet, AirAsia, and TAP Air Portugal – all of which Arik De previously worked at before landing at Etihad Airways.

In other posts, the profile takes swipes at Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico and India’s TATA-controlled Vistara.

Who is actually behind the profile remains a mystery, although suspicion is, of course, falling on Arik De. Why the profile was created and what its purpose is also remains a mystery.

Rather than helping to promote Etihad or Arik De, it seems to have done the exact opposite and, in fact, annoyed a number of rival airline executives who may cross paths with senior leaders at Etihad in the not-too-distant future.

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