RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new global airline RIA will be headed up by Etihad's Tony Douglas, Arabian Business reported citing industry sources.
Talks between RIA and Etihad’s CEO were announced on Sept. 8, and now Douglas has agreed to join the new airline after being in charge of UAE's national carrier since 2018.
He also served as CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Co. between 2013 and 2015 and held senior positions with the British Airport Authority.
Douglas has nearly 20 years of experience in transportation, infrastructure and government sectors.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund has invested $30 billion in the new airline, which is expected to compete on global routes with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
The initial launch phase is set to focus on regional routes, using Airbus A320s and Boeing 737Max planes.
Global consulting firm Korn Ferry has begun the process of finding a replacement, the sources said, while Douglas, as understood, has informed Etihad’s shareholders of his decision, but agreed to stay on until a replacement is found.
The Saudi PIF did not respond to requests for comment, Arabian Business said.
Etihad Airways has reached out to a number of current and former airline CEOs to gauge their interest in being considered for the top job at the carrier, should it become available, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
At least three senior aviation figures have been approached by a head-hunting firm, the people said, asking not to be identified for process confidentiality.
The people added that no employment offers have been made and any talks are preliminary.
An Etihad spokeswoman declined to comment, Bloomberg said.