(Corrects syntax in paragraph 6)
* Interim group CEO and CFOs appointed
* Permanent Group CEO to be named soon
* Outgoing Group CEO, Group CFO to leave July 1
DUBAI, May 8 Etihad Airways said on Monday it
had appointed temporary replacements for its long-serving
president and chief executive James Hogan and chief financial
officer James Rigney, who are to leave on July 1.
The company, which had announced in January only that the
two Australians were leaving some time in the second half of the
year, said it had appointed insiders Ray Gammell as
interim group chief executive and Ricky Thirion as interim group
The temporary replacements come less than a week after
Italy's Alitalia, 49 percent 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, but the Abu Dhabi-owned
airline said last week it was not willing to invest further in
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. Lower fuel prices
dented demand for high-margin premium cabins as Middle East
travel budgets tightened, while East to West traffic, an
important route for Gulf carriers, diminished after a wave of
militant attacks in Europe and Turkey.
Gammell, who joined the Abu Dhabi airline in 2009, currently
serves as the group's Chief People & Performance Officer and is
a member of the Executive Leadership.
Thirion, who joined the airline in 2007, currently serves as
Senior Vice President, Group Treasurer.
An Etihad spokesman said that Thirion had also been
appointed on an interim basis without saying when a permanent
replacement for Rigney would be made.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Louise Heavens,