Loss-making Etihad Airways is seeing the mass exodus of key cargo executives “escaping the madness”, a source close to the carrier tells AsiaCargoBuzz.com.
In recent weeks the cargo division of Etihad has seen the departure of at least three senior cargo executives and an number of others as the carrier continues to struggle with mounting losses.
A source close to Eithad Cargo that declined to be named, confirms that Justin Carr, formerly vice president Cargo has left the company, as has Rory Black, formerly head of Cargo Commercial Planning and essentially the second in charge and also Roberto Gilardoni, formerly senior manager Freighters Commercial.
A number of others have also left, the source says, leaving a substantial vacuum in the cargo department of Etihad. AsiaCargoBuzz.com understands the division is now being overseen by Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, managing director Cargo and Logistics, Etihad Airways.
“The fact everyone is leaving without having jobs to go to should tell you all you need to know,” the source says, adding that staff were “escaping the madness” as the carrier seemingly implodes.
The first signs of trouble within the cargo division were the idling of Etihad Cargo’s five A330-200 freighters at the beginning of this year. They were recently bought by DHL Aviation to be operated on behalf of DHL Express.
The mass departure gives an inkling into just how bad the situation has become at the Abu-Dhabi-based carrier.
At the end of August Fitch Ratings, one of the ‘Big Three’ credit rating agencies, forecast that Etihad Airways will continue losing money through 2022, citing the “high execution risk” in the state-owned carrier’s turnaround plan.
The credit ratings company affirmed the airline’s long-term rating at ‘A’ with a stable outlook, given the support provided by the government of Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s owner.
Fitch expects Etihad to remain the smallest among the three Arab Gulf carriers, including Emirates and Qatar Airways, citing “very weak” financials.
Etihad posted a USD 1.52 billion core airline loss for 2017, extending losses at the main airline unit to almost USD 3.5 billion in the past two years. The airline plans to reduce capacity by 2.4 per cent in 2018 after posting 1.0 per cent growth last year.
Etihad is in the midst of reorganising itself as it continues to recover from the ongoing losses. Aside from the sale of the A330 freighters, Etihad has also retired its five B777-200 passenger aircraft.
Etihad Airways Group chief executive Tony Douglas, who joined in January 2018, said recently that Etihad was becoming “more rational” and would not shy away from dropping routes that were commercially unsustainable.
Douglas’ predecessor, James Hogan pursued a strategy which saw billions of dollars spent buying stakes in other airlines as it sought to transform Abu Dhabi into a major hub like Emirates created in Dubai.
“Etihad is now focused on point-to-point traffic to destinations where passengers want to visit Abu Dhabi, and not just fly through it,” Douglas said.