In a significant development for aviation within the Middle East, Antonoaldo Neves has been appointed as group chief executive officer of Etihad Aviation Group.

The appointment was announced by ADQ, the Abu Dhabi based investment and holding company, along with Etihad’s Board of Directors this week.

Neves replaces Tony Douglas “who has decided to pursue an opportunity elsewhere”, according to a release issued by ADQ. Douglas served in that role since January 2018.

Douglas will also serve during his transition period as an advisor to the board of ADQ Aviation and Aerospace Services Company.

“I am proud to have served as Etihad’s chief executive officer over the past five years. The unprecedented challenges stemming from macro-economic conditions faced by the industry were successfully navigated through prudent measures undertaken to position Etihad on a sustainable path for the future. I am appreciative of all the support provided by my Etihad colleagues and looking forward to further supporting the evolution of the wider Abu Dhabi aviation ecosystem,” said Douglas.

Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of Etihad Aviation Group added: “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 program. As we’re entering our next phase of sustainable growth, we are confident that Antonoaldo will build on Tony’s legacy.”

Neves was formerly the CEO and board member of TAP, the national airline of Portugal. Prior to TAP, he was the president of Azul Airlines in Brazil, and led the company to IPO in the NYSE. He was also a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he developed the long-term plan for aviation sector development in Brazil.

“Etihad Airways is a global well-known brand in the industry. I’m 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,” said Neves, the new group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Council for Financial and Economic Affairs transferred full ownership of Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) to ADQ. Etihad Airways connects 63 destinations in 42 countries and reported a record breaking first-half operating profit of US$296 million this year.;