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Etihad Airways has appointed Ray Gammell as interim group chief executive, confirming the departure of James Hogan on 1 July.

The airline in a statement said it was in “advanced stages” of recruiting a permanent group chief executive, with an announcement expected in “the next few weeks.”

Mr Gammell, the airline’s chief people and performance officer, will take “full management responsibilities from today.” He joined the company in 2009.

Mr Hogan’s departure was first announced in January after the Abu Dhabi government-owned carrier launched a strategic review into the airline’s operations in 2016.

Alitalia’s placement into administration last week has exposed concerns over Etihad’s strategy of building minority stakes in airlines to drive traffic to its hub in the Gulf, where it faces competition from Dubai’s Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Etihad and Italian shareholders invested €1.7bn in the Italian carrier in 2014, giving the Abu Dhabi airline a 49 per cent stake as it promised to turn Alitalia around.

Mr Gammell will “continue to advance the strategic review that was initiated by the board in 2016 to reposition the business for continued development in what we anticipate being a prolonged period of challenges for global aviation,” said Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Etihad chairman.

Regional airlines, after more than a decade of strong growth, have all been hit by a sluggish global growth, a decline in regional activity sparked by the sustained period of low oil prices, and tougher immigration procedures for travel to the US from the Middle East.

James Rigney, group chief financial officer, is also stepping down on 1 July, and will be replaced by Ricky Thirion, who has overseen treasury at the group since 2007.

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