Former boss of Portuguese airline TAP named Etihad Aviation Group CEO after ADQ transfer

Antonoaldo Neves succeeds Tony Douglas, who has decided to pursue an opportunity elsewhere

Etihad reported a record first-half profit as demand for long-haul travel recovered with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Roland Magunia for The National
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The Etihad Aviation Group has appointed the former boss of Portuguese airline TAP, Antonoaldo Neves, to succeed Tony Douglas as chief executive.

The announcement came a day after the Abu Dhabi government transferred its ownership of the Etihad Aviation Group — the parent of Etihad Airways — to holding company ADQ as part of efforts to transform the emirate into a global aviation hub.

Mr Douglas, who took the reins at the Etihad Aviation Group in January 2018, has decided to pursue an opportunity elsewhere, ADQ said on Wednesday.

Antonoaldo Neves, the new chief executive of the Etihad Aviation Group. Photo: ADQ

During the transition period, Mr Douglas will serve as an adviser to the boards of ADQ Aviation and the Aerospace Services Company.

Mr Neves was chief executive and a board member of Lisbon-based TAP from July 2017 to September 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Before that, he was president of Brazil’s Azul Airlines from January 2014 to July 2017, and took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Tony has led Etihad through some of its most challenging times and has successfully turned the airline into a profitable and sustainable business over the past five years as part of its initial transformation programme,” said Etihad Aviation Group chairman Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa.

“As we are entering our next phase of sustainable growth, we are confident that Antonoaldo will build on Tony’s legacy.”

Mr Douglas led Etihad to a record first-half profit as demand for long-haul travel recovered with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and air cargo revenue continued to grow.

The airline returned to the black with a core operating profit of $296 million in the first six months of this year, compared with a half-year loss of $392m in 2021.

The British aviation executive led Etihad Airways through a five-year restructuring programme that transformed it into a medium-sized airline as it reduced its fleet, network and workforce.

The airline took further steps to reduce costs and preserve cash flow during the Covid-19 pandemic. This, together with its transformation programme, helped it to deal with the global crisis and paid off with historic earnings.

Mr Douglas previously worked at the UK Ministry of Defence, after serving as chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports and filling an executive role at London’s Heathrow airport.

“I am proud to have served as Etihad’s chief executive officer over the past five years. The unprecedented challenges stemming from macroeconomic conditions faced by the industry were successfully navigated through prudent measures undertaken to position Etihad on a sustainable path for the future,” he said.

Mr Neves, who led a major turnaround at TAP, said that Etihad Airways was a “global well-known brand” in the aviation industry.

“I am excited to embark on this new role and build on the solid foundation left by Tony and the management team. I am confident that Etihad will prosper into new heights and continue its journey of sustainable growth,” he said.

Besides the Etihad Aviation Group, ADQ’s aviation portfolio includes Abu Dhabi Airports, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and ADQ Aviation & Aerospace Services Company.

Updated: October 19, 2022, 4:02 PM