A move by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad to transform into a mid-size carrier has been accompanied by an exodus of executives and job fears from pilots.
The move to shrink its operations will see the Gulf carrier concentrate on its fleet of widebody aircraft with what it describes as a “leaner, flatter and scalable structure” aimed at supporting organic growth as air travel resumes.
This may include retiring its 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos but it has pledged to continue its focus on safety, security and service, including its “Etihad Wellness” health and hygiene program.
“As a responsible business, we can no longer continue to incrementally adapt to a marketplace that we believe has changed for the foreseeable future,’’ Etihad group chief executive Tony Douglas said in a statement announcing significant management changes.
“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 organisation to allow us to continue delivering on our mandate, ensuring long-term sustainability, and contributing to the growth and prominence of Abu Dhabi.”
Reuters reported that the airline warned pilots of immediate compulsory layoffs in a letter seen by the news agency.
“The hard reality is that, despite all hopes, our industry is simply not recovering quick enough and we will continue to be a much smaller airline for some time,” pilots were told in an email distributed on Monday,’’ the letter said.
“Based on all these factors, it has become clear that we have no choice but to further reduce our workforce.”
The move to flatten its management structure will see the airline consolidate and transfer roles as executives leave.
The departure of chief commercial officer Robin Kamark will see the business units within his department separated and transferred under the leadership of chief operating officer Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief financial officer Adam Boukadida and Terry Daly, who will assume the role of executive director guest experience, brand & marketing. Daly’s responsibilities will include the airline’s loyalty program.
A busy Al Bulooki will assume responsibility for network planning, sales, revenue management, cargo & logistics, commercial strategy planning, and alliances, in addition to his existing portfolio.
Also leaving is senior vice president sales and distribution Duncan Bureau, His portfolio will be taken on by Martin Drew alongside his current responsibilities as managing director for cargo & logistics.
The departure of chief transformation officer Akram Alami will see the procurement and supply chain department and the transformation office move under the leadership of Boukadida, who also assumes responsibility for analytics.
Chief human resources and organizational development officer Ibrahim Nassir gains responsibility for asset management.
Mutaz Saleh will be leaving his position as chief risk and compliance officer and his responsibilities will be split between general counsel Henning zur Hausen and Boukadida.
Chief digital officer Frank Meyer, chief engineering officer Abdul Khaliq Saeed, and chief investments officer Andrew Macfarlane continue in their positions.