Former Etihad CEO Caught Violating UK Quarantine, Faces £10,000 Fine

Filed Under: Etihad

According to The Daily Mail, Etihad Airways’ controversial former CEO was caught trying to circumvent the UK’s quarantine requirement, and could now face a fine.

Former Etihad CEO tried to avoid UK quarantine

James Hogan was CEO of Etihad Airways for more than a decade, from 2006 until 2017 (more on that in a bit). He now runs a business advisory firm, and frequently travels between the United Kingdom (where he lives), Switzerland (where he has an office), and the United Arab Emirates (where he has another office).

It seems that on a recent trip to the UK he was caught trying to violate quarantine rules, and he’s now facing a fine of up to £10,000. Here’s what allegedly happened:

  • Hogan flew from Abu Dhabi to Geneva on March 17, and entered the country with his Australian passport
  • Hogan then flew from Geneva to London on March 19 (two days later), and entered the country with his UK passport
  • The UAE is a UK “red list” country, meaning Hogan would have to quarantine in a managed facility if he had been in the UAE in the past 10 days (which he had)
  • Hogan didn’t declare that he had been in the UAE on his passenger locator form

How did he get caught?

UK Border Force allegedly met Hogan when he arrived at Heathrow Airport. How was he caught? It’s believed that a whistleblower in either the UAE or Switzerland contacted the British Embassy after “hearing Mr. Hogan boast about his travel arrangements.” I suppose this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but it sure seems that someone who didn’t particularly like Hogan decided to report him.

Officials are apparently also now looking into whether Hogan breached quarantine rules during a prior trip to the UAE, given how often he travels between the three countries.

This is probably good publicity for Hogan

You might think that this story is bad publicity for Hogan, but I’d disagree. Why? The Daily Mail refers to Hogan as “one of Britain’s most successful airline chiefs.”

I mean, perhaps that’s true in terms of him enriching himself, and I also have to give him credit for really working his way up in the airline industry, as he started by working at an airline check-in desk, and eventually became CEO of some major airlines.

But seriously, look at Hogan’s track record:

  • He started his career at Ansett Airlines, which is no longer in business (in fairness, he was in a junior role at the time)
  • He then held senior positions at British Midland (which doesn’t exist anymore) and Hertz (which is in bankruptcy)
  • He was CEO of Gulf Air, which was the biggest airline in the region back in the day, but unfortunately nowadays is almost irrelevant (in fairness, Gulf Air is improving slowly and steadily)
  • Then he was CEO of Etihad for over a decade; first he grew the airline endlessly with no real plan, and then the whole thing unraveled, as the airline is now a shell of its former self, and the “Etihad Airways Partners” concept might be the worst investment strategy we’ve seen in the history of the airline industry

And now the guy runs an advisory service intended to help others “release the real value in their business assets.”

Bottom line

The former CEO of Etihad has allegedly been caught trying to violate the UK’s quarantine requirement, as he tried to use different passports to make it seem like he hadn’t recently been in the UAE.

But apparently he boasted about his plans, and someone reported him to UK authorities, causing him to be intercepted. I wonder if he’ll actually be fined, or if this is just an empty threat from the government.

  1. Gulf Air’s problems date back to way before Hogan joined. Dubai, Qatar and Oman withdrew successively and this was before his time. Eventually Abu Dhabi left as well and started Etihad. Ansett and British Midland also had structural and strategic issues you can’t put at his feet. He screwed up Etihad big time, but look at the bright side: you got a signed Shawn Mendes photo lol.

  2. James Hogan sounds like a guy you want to hire when you want to make a splash on your way out… I will be curious to see the reactions of people about this versus the disruptive passengers from the recent post. Maybe SAA should hire him.

  3. Oh Lucky

    I gather you don’t like Hogan. Your choice. But I think you misrepresent him badly and really should apologize.

    He took over Gulf Air when it was struggling and made it into a very reputable airline. My airline of choice at the time.

    He was then recruited out of the CEO position at Gulf Air just after signing a new contract by Etihad. (Probably cost Etihad some extra cash in compensation).

    He was then tasked with the job of making Etihad (he National Airline of the UAE) into something that would shame Emirates (the Dubai Airline). Starting with some leased cast-offs from SQ he was at the back of the bus trying to tame the tiger. But that was why he was hired.

    Difficult to see how a startup with a couple of planes could immediately compete with EK in a short period of time means taking some big risks – the Apartment for example – that in this case did not work out.

    On the revenue side it was immediately an impossible task. Dubai is Hollywood and Vegas combined and became a holiday destination mainly for the Brits. Filled to the brim with tourists the Dubai destination was a winner. They also had beaches and beaches and more beaches filled with hotels already in place. And with EK’s network DXB became a transit stop with a holiday in between flights. Dubai also relaxed or eliminated visa restrictions which Abu Dhabi did not do initially.

    Abu Dhabi only had a half dozen hotels that could be called a holiday destination, very limited connectivity, an airport almost 80 km from town and a strict and conservative approach to tourism.

    You can’t blame Hogan for trying but you certainly must admit that the deck was stacked greatly against him.

    Because Hogan only joined in 2006, EY also found themselves at the tail end of the A380 buying line. With SQ the launch partner and EK ordering slews poor EY was the poor child at the end of the line. At one point it was reported that they had managed to secure the purchase of one of the test A380’s and might have received it early in the game but that eventually fell through. (Perhaps EK had something to do with it (only a guess on my part)).

    Successful businessmen sometimes appear to have a lot a failures along the way. But for Hogan, there were many successes that eventually became failures years after he left. Gulf Air was doing very well after he restructured it but when he left the increased competition from new airlines that had been part of the partnership (UAE, Oman, Qatar) caused its slow decline. Only Bahrain was left and that was a very small market internationally. They also lost slots in the UAE etc which didn’t help.

    I think it would be fairer to applaud the fact that Hogan managed to make EY into a player that in some markets out performs EY. Incredible for a little startup with only a handful of older leased planes from airlines shedding them for better hardware. I remember flying in 2003/4 to JNB on a A330/340 that still had an outline of the SQ logo on the bulkhead and was in rather tired shape in J. That was the state of EY in the beginning before Hogan arrived.

    I would think that the combination of Covid-19 and the resulting crash in the price of oil and tourism were deciding factors in the success story that was unfolding with is myriad of ups and downs.

    I finally managed last year to book an A380 First flight class flight for this fall but that opportunity has come and gone unfortunately.

    Interesting that you should shame Hogan for bending the rules regarding covid restrictions when you did something similar on your way to Germany last year. Double passports can be so handy sometimes, can’t they?

  4. I guess we can be thankful for the fine work he did ruining Etihad, and leaving them in the ruined mess they’re in now, on top of Covid.

  5. @ Azamaraal, I’m not sure I’d call this ‘bending the rules’, it was deliberately seeking to mislead the border agents and a clear cut criminal offence on the facts presented so far …

  6. @Azamaraal

    Dual citizens being allowed entry into their own country is completely legal, there is nothing “rule bending” about it, and afaik Lucky did follow quarantine rules. Hogan purposely used his multiple passports to mislead authorities in order to skip quarantine rules, that’s illegal.

    How you can paint the two as even remotely similar is beyond me.

  7. The U.K. policy on this is a shame to its liberal traditons.
    Where were these fines from? Did Parliament pass them? Are they knowable to the man on the Clapham omnibus from common reason? Is there judicial due process or are such fines simply imposed by jobsworth bureaucrats?
    The U.K. has fought to maintain civil liberties since before Magna Carta. Whatever the merits (or otherwise) of Mr. Hogan’s case, the current regime on entry and (especially) exit is an authoritarian disgrace which eats into civil liberties hard won over centuries.

  8. He left Etihad over 4 years ago so why bring this up? It is just not relavant.

    But private citizen breaks law (and yes Ben Dover this is law as passed by Parliament and ignorance is no defence in the UK just as it is on the US) won’t generate any traffic would it Ben?

  9. @Tom @David

    When US citizens were not allowed into Germany, flying into Germany on a German passport Via Canada on a US passport (?) from covid laden Florida is case 1.

    When direct flights from AUH (almost fully vaccinated) require quarantine, flying on an Australian passport to Switzerland and then two days later on a UK passport into the UK is case 2.

    Please, please explain exactly how these are different. Case 2 is much better because the UAE is almost fully vaccinated and very low covid presence while case 1 was travel from out of control Florida.

    The odd thing is the essential business travelers are specifically allowed to travel while vacationing travelers are not. Again, case 2 trumps case 1.

    I would suspect that technically case 2 is legal and the lawyers will have fun with it. Case 1 was probably not.

    I have no axe to grind but there is hypocrisy somewhere in this scenario.

  10. Hogan gutted Gulf Air to keep the numbers up and jumped ship when there was nothing left to sell.

  11. This just highlights the utter lunacy of allowing people to have 2 passports from different countries. In my view a passport reflects citizenship and nationality: people should choose one ( if they have a choice at all) and stick with it.
    There has been all sorts of creative jiggery-pokery over travel during covid , as some sleazebags ( including many celebrities) think it’s clever to circumvent the rules, for personal convenience, by using 2 passports.
    Sure, Hogan should be fined the maximum but any idea that this is unique is risible.

  12. “Dubai also relaxed or eliminated visa restrictions which Abu Dhabi did not do initially.”

    Dubai and Abu Dhabi have the same visa policy, as they are part of the same country, so any relaxing or elimination of visa restrictions would always apply to both places at the same time. There is no separate visa policy for each emirate within the UAE.

    “I would suspect that technically case 2 is legal”

    You would suspect wrongly.

    The issue isn’t where he traveled from, it’s that he did not declare that he was originally coming from the UAE that got him in trouble. If Lucky declared that his travels originated from the US and/or followed quarantine laws, then he didn’t do anything wrong. But Hogan clearly misrepresented where he was coming from. That is why he is being fined.

    While Hogan wasn’t a complete failure at every job he took, calling him “one of Britain’s most successful airline chiefs” is a bit of hyperbole. The guy is simply a case of mediocrity somehow rising upwards in his career. If anything, the best thing to do would be to hire him as a consultant, and then do the exact opposite of what he advises.

  13. @santastico which is why the U.K. now has very low rates, although the restrictions should have been brought in much earlier This guy is typical of those who think rules don’t apply to them.

  14. @Paolo,

    passports are a travel aid. Some people even have different passports for the same country (one for personal travel, another for diplomatic or military reasons), some travel on an United Nations passport when travelling on behalf of a UN mission. Some of us that hold dual citizenship. It’s just a reflection of our personal histories, and the laws of those particular countries that allow dual citizenship.

    In a lot of cases, the two passports are linked. I know that authorities in Australia, The UK, USA, Canada, and the Schengen countries in Europe know I have an Australian and UK passport, and in most cases are linked in their immigration systems.

    Most of us that do have dual citizenship realise it is a privilege, and do not abuse it.

    However, it is some people’s nature to think they are above the rules in place. It is a reflection of their character, which unfortunately is unlikely to change. Under those circumstances, I have no problem throwing the book at the offenders.

  15. To be honest I just travelled from the US to the UK for business purposes and I still had to do the two covid tests and quarantine in a hotel room for 10 days. Yes I am fully vaccinated and yet I still had to quarantine. Why shouldn’t he?

  16. He is already a shameful man that destroyed 2 airlines in middle east. GULF AIR and Etihad, he couldn’t manage these airlines and ruined them, not surprised after seeing this news.

  17. Do we dare asking whether he quarantined in Switzerland ? … because the UAE were on the Swiss “red list” as well at that time…

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