Saudi Arabia’s “RIA” Poaches Etihad CEO Tony Douglas

We lately discovered about how Saudi Arabia is planning on launching a brand new mega-airline, which can be named “RIA.” The nation is seeking to make investments $30 billion within the airline, and primarily create an airline the dimensions of Emirates, solely a lot quicker.

A few weeks in the past there was a report that the airline was seeking to poach a specific particular person to be CEO, and it seems to be like that was quest was profitable.

Etihad’s Tony Douglas to turn out to be RIA CEO

Arabian Enterprise is reporting that Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund (PIF) has approached Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas to be CEO of Saudi Arabian airline startup “RIA,” and that he has accepted the function.

In response to experiences, he’ll keep on at Etihad till the tip of the 12 months, till a alternative will be discovered. Studies additionally counsel that a number of different senior officers at Etihad will observe Douglas to RIA.

Douglas has been CEO of Etihad since early 2018. Previous to working at Etihad, Douglas was CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Firm, and previous to that he labored in senior positions at British Airports Authority (BAA).

Douglas was Saudi Arabia’s high choose for the place, and I think about Saudi Arabia might make him a compelling supply, given how a lot cash the nation is prepared to throw at… nearly the whole lot.

Up till lately I puzzled how severe the entire RIA idea was. It’s changing into more and more clear that that is really taking place, and that the airline will launch fairly quickly. Additionally, I’ve now heard of a number of people who find themselves leaving their established, senior jobs at different airways, to work at this startup. It appears dangerous, however I suppose it additionally has the potential to be fairly rewarding (in some methods)…

Saudia is getting some competitors in Saudi Arabia!

Is Douglas a superb choose for RIA CEO?

For those who ask me, Tony Douglas has accomplished an awesome job at Etihad. Etihad’s earlier CEO lit billions of {dollars} on fireplace, desirous to develop the airline right into a mega-carrier that competed with Emirates and Qatar Airways, whereas additionally constructing a world alliance of airways (most of which have gone out of enterprise). Douglas has labored to undo all of that, and shrink the airline to profitability.

He has accomplished an awesome job with controlling prices, and making some tough choices. Now, let me be clear — I far most well-liked the 2014 Etihad that flew A380s, had The Residence, and spent thousands and thousands of {dollars} to have Nicole Kidman in adverts. I wouldn’t need to spend money on that airline, however I positive did get pleasure from flying with the airline. 😉

Whereas I’ve a variety of respect for Douglas, I discover him to be a considerably curious selection for an airline startup that’s seeking to develop at a tempo we’ve by no means seen earlier than. His first-ever airline job was at Etihad, and his job was to shrink the airline to profitability.

So will probably be attention-grabbing to see how he does rising an airline from scratch, balancing prices with luxurious, forming a frequent flyer program, establishing partnerships, and so forth. Off the highest of my head I can consider a number of certified trade executives who’ve extra expertise with this sort of progress, however that’s to not say Douglas doesn’t know what he’s doing.

What Douglas additionally has going for him is expertise with aviation within the area. Most (however not all) senior executives within the area are in any other case (realistically) too previous to start out up this airline, or have too many nationwide ties to a rustic to work in Saudi Arabia.

Etihad now looking for a brand new CEO

Bloomberg is reporting that Etihad Airways has now reached out to various present and former airline CEOs, in a quest to switch Douglas. Whereas the airline hasn’t formally confirmed that Douglas has resigned, it appears fairly apparent at this level.

I’m very curious to see who finally ends up on the helm of Etihad. As talked about above, Etihad has gone from a CEO who lit cash on fireplace, to at least one who ran the airline in a really disciplined means. Will the latest CEO preserve that imaginative and prescient going, or will the airline discover a completely happy medium?

Selfishly I hope that Etihad finds somebody who’s an A380 fan, in order that these lovely Etihad A380s could make a comeback. However that’s in all probability wishful considering. 😉

Can Etihad’s subsequent CEO please be an A380 lover?!

Backside line

Saudi Arabia’s mega-airline startup has allegedly poached Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas to start out up the airline. It’s not stunning to see that he accepted the supply, given how a lot Saudi Arabia is presumably prepared to pay. Douglas will allegedly keep on at Etihad till the tip of the 12 months, in order that there’s time for a alternative to be discovered. I’m additionally curious to see who’s appointed as the subsequent CEO of Etihad.

What do you make of Saudi Arabia allegedly recruiting Tony Douglas, and who do you suppose would be the subsequent CEO of Etihad?

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