James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, has confirmed he will take up a seat on the board of Virgin Australia, the carrier in which Etihad owns a 19.9 per cent stake.
Virgin offered a board seat to each of its significant shareholders, including Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, after they collectively injected $350 million into the carrier last year.
The other airlines are now expected to nominate their CEOs to the board.
The news of Hogan’s new position was reported in the Australian Financial Review (AFR).
In an interview with the AFR, Hogan said: “I will sit on the board. I am an Australian, I know the market; I’ve been in aviation since 1975, maybe I can add some value.”
The role will include attending several board meetings each year in Australia.
Hogan also used the interview to deny claims that Etihad, together with Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, were planning a ‘virtual takeover’ of Virgin Australia.
Late last year, Alan Joyce, CEO of Virgin’s rival Qantas, claimed the UAE carrier’s investment in Virgin would destabilise Australia’s domestic aviation industry. He also said the move was not ‘proper commercial behaviour’.
“We happen to be owned by the state but we have a commercial mandate and we are structured accordingly,” Hogan said.
“If I don’t deliver the financial requirements of the business they will replace me. That is the environment all Abu Dhabi companies operate in.”
As well as Virgin Australia, Etihad also has stakes in airlines including Jet Airways, airberlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus. Last year it rebranded Darwin Airline as Etihad Regional, taking a 33.3 per cent stake.