Wednesday 21 February 2018

Former Irish Army officer Gammell in command at Etihad

Ray Gammell and Ricky Thirion
Ray Gammell and Ricky Thirion
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Former Irish Army officer Ray Gammell has been appointed interim CEO of Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways - one of the most senior jobs in the sector worldwide.

He'll take over immediately from Australian James Hogan, current president and group CEO who will leave the company on July 1 following a handover period.

Mr Gammell was previously Etihad's chief people and performance officer, a job he took up in 2009 having served as RBS's head of HR for Europe and the Middle East.

At Etihad he has been responsible for a workforce drawn from 154 nationalities, including driving a so-called Emiratisation strategy to boost the total Emirati workforce of more than 3,000 at Etihad Aviation Group.

The former Army officer held executive positions at Intel in the US and Ireland, as well as at RBS before joining the airline. He is a chartered fellow at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and holds a Masters Degree from University College Dublin.

He joins a growing roster of Irish executives in senior airline posts around the world, including Willie Walsh at IAG and Michael O'Leary at Ryanair, as well as Alan Joyce, who heads up Qantas, and Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew.

Etihad also announced that Ricky Thirion will become interim group financial officer, replacing chief financial officer James Rigney who also leaves in July.

The company had previously announced in January that the two Australians were leaving some time in the second half of the year.

The temporary replacements come less than a week after Italy's Alitalia, 49pc owned by Etihad, filed for special administration for the second time in less than a decade after workers rejected its latest rescue plan.

Alitalia was one of Etihad's key investments as it raced to catch up with fast-growing rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways by buying into several foreign carriers, including the Italian carrier and Air Berlin.

However, the Abu Dhabi-owned airline said last week it was not willing to invest further in Alitalia.

As interim CEO, Mr Gammell is to continue with a strategic review begun last year though a permanent group CEO is expected to be announced in the "next few weeks", chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel al-Mazrouei said in a statement.

Gulf airlines have seen growth slow over the past two years against a more challenging economic backdrop - including lower oil prices squeezing spending in the region - while East to West traffic diminished after a wave of militant attacks in Europe and Turkey. (Additional reporting Reuters)

Irish Independent

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