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Hogan has with more than 30 years of travel industry expertise. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)
Hogan has with more than 30 years of travel industry expertise. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
(Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Who is James Hogan?

James Hogan, CEO of Etihad, has been aggressive about expanding the airline ever since his appointment in Sep 2006

James Hogan, 56, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Etihad Airways PJSC, has resisted joining any of the global airline groupings that were keen to have the United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline on board. That’s because he’s been creating his own alliance of sorts.

Over the past six and a half years, Hogan went about acquiring equity for Etihad in various airlines—Air Berlin Plc., Air Seychelles Ltd, Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, Aer Lingus Group Plc., and now a 24% stake in Jet Airways (India) Ltd.

“We have taken great strides in building the industry’s first ‘equity alliance’, with our investments in Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus, which are contributing significant value to our business," Hogan said in a conference call on 4 February.

“Hogan is very warm and friendly. He understands the game," said a senior Etihad executive, requesting anonymity. “Etihad Airways (has) started getting (the fruit of) its various equity investments. He believes Jet Airways is the biggest bet."

Hogan, an Australian with more than 30 years of travel industry expertise, has been aggressive about expanding Etihad ever since he was appointed in September 2006 to head it. In July 2008, he signed one of the largest orders in aviation history for 205 aircraft worth about $43 billion.

The net profit of Etihad Airways, owned by the UAE government, jumped to $42 million in 2012 from $14 million in 2011.

“This has been a game-changing year for Etihad Airways. We have delivered improved net profit, (for) the second consecutive year we have been in the black, a remarkable achievement given the youth, ambitious growth and ongoing investment made by this airline in a challenging global economic environment," Hogan said in the call.

Etihad, set up by a royal decree in July 2003, began commercial operations in November that year.

The airline’s first year of profit was particularly challenging for the sector globally.

“In 2011, we contended with the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan, global economic uncertainty, regional instability in the Middle East, and high oil prices, averaging $110.83 per barrel over the course of the year—all of which were outside our control," Hogan said early last year announcing the 2011 results. “As always, we will expect the unexpected, and in 2012 be ready to react to the unforeseen events that will undoubtedly arise."

Hogan started his career in 1975 at Ansett Airlines and subsequently held senior positions with British Midland International, Hertz, Forte Hotels and Etihad’s rival Gulf Air, where he was president and chief executive for four years.

Immediately after joining Etihad Airways, Hogan brought in his friend James Rigney —who was heading corporate strategy at Gulf Air—as executive vice-president (finance) in October 2006. Rigney, who was elevated to chief financial officer in March 2009, is said to have played a critical role in the Jet Airways deal.

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