ETIHAD AIRWAYS CHAIRMAN
In 2015, BTN named Etihad Aviation Group
CEO James Hogan to its list of Most Influential largely for the company’s investments to
build a global alliance network. This year, Hogan stepped down from that position, as chairman Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei,
announced a review of Hogan’s policy. In the
aftermath, one major European carrier is out of
business and another is on life support.
Upon Mazrouei’s ordered review, Etihad
pulled financial support from Germany’s second-largest carrier, Airberlin, and the carrier
filed for insolvency soon after. Airberlin made
its last flight in October, and Lufthansa and
Easyjet are seeking regulatory approval to absorb the remains.
Another carrier in Etihad’s family of investments, Alitalia, filed for bankruptcy protection
this spring, after its workers rejected a major
refinancing plan and Etihad decided not to offer additional funding. Unlike Airberlin, Alitalia
seems poised to survive as a carrier, continuing operations as it weighs offers from bidders to take it out of bankruptcy.
Financial woes predated Etihad’s investments
in both carriers, and Etihad’s change in strategy
was not surprising, given that the investments
were large factors in Etihad’s $1.87 billion net loss
in 2016. Etihad Airways CEO Peter Baumgartner
has said the company has no plans to pull back
on its other investments, which include India’s
Jet Airways, and Etihad Aviation has tapped former Heathrow CEO Tony Douglas to succeed
Hogan as group CEO in January. In the meantime, Baumgartner has indicated the carrier is
now focused on its own network rather than
looking for new investments.
—Michael B. Baker
CHARLES “WICK” MOORMAN
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo preordained summer 2017 the “summer of hell” for travelers out of New York Penn Station, as Amtrak began a massive repair project that disrupted
schedules out of the busiest rail station in the U.S. In the end, it turned out to be more of a
summer of heck.
Following a series of derailments and stalled trains along the tracks shared by Amtrak, New
Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad, Amtrak and its president and CEO, Wick Moorman,
decided in April to accelerate track work that had been scheduled to take several years.
The work focused largely on repairing the interlocking system that routes trains into and out of
the station. In all, Amtrak installed 897 track ties, 1,100 feet of rails, 1,000 tons of ballast, seven
switches, four diamond crossings and 176 yards of concrete.
While the work required significant service disruptions over
the summer months, Amtrak largely left key business travel
routes alone; it made no changes to schedules for the Acela
Express lines or the Northeast Regional service between New
York and Boston. Some service between New York and Washington was canceled, however, and routes on the Keystone service to Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa., were routed to avoid
Penn Station. Amtrak mitigated the disruption by lengthening
trains to increase capacity, according to Moorman.
Despite fears, the work finished on time and without any significant problems. Near the end of the work period, Cuomo conceded that his forecast “summer
of hell” did not materialize. Amtrak later reported record ridership, including on the Northeast Corridor line, for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
The emergency repair work was far from the end of the scope of work needed at Penn Station,
though the project will continue without Moorman at the helm. He joined Amtrak in September
2016 as a transitional CEO, and Amtrak’s board has appointed former Delta CEO Richard Anderson
to succeed Moorman at the turn of the year. Since July, Anderson has been working alongside
Moorman, who will continue to advise Amtrak next year.
—Michael B. Baker
New York Gov. Andrew
Cuomo had preordained
summer 2017 as the
“summer of hell” for
travelers out of New
York Penn Station, but it
turned out to be just a
summer of heck.