EXCLUSIVE: Plane crash email 'racist' - Etihad CEO
Etihad CEO James Hogan has hit back at a viral email which purports to show one of his airline’s planes smashed against a wall during testing in France, calling it “racist” and “unfounded.”
The anonymous email, which has circulated widely on the internet since an incident in 2007 when a plane bearing the Etihad livery crashed at speed during an engine test, makes repeated reference to the shortcomings of the Arab testing crew and concludes with the words: “That’s why God gave them camels.”
In an interview with Arabian Business, Hogan, who has previously declined to comment on the issue, said: “The images of the Airbus A340-600 involved in the accident in Toulouse in 2007 have repeatedly been distributed via email and blogs, often with a range of comments disparaging Etihad and – in some cases – making unfounded and racist remarks about the skills of Middle Eastern pilots.
“In fact, no Etihad staff had anything to do with this accident. It happened before we had taken delivery of the aircraft, during testing by the manufacturer.”
It is understood by Arabian Business the accident occurred during the final stages of aircraft testing by manufacturer Airbus - ahead of delivery to Etihad - when the engines were engaged without the ‘chocks’ (wooden or rubber stoppers designed to prevent the wheels moving) in place.
“It is very frustrating to see the same emails circulating over and over again, with the same wrong claims when the truth is that Etihad has an impeccable safety record, and the standards of Middle Eastern carriers and aviation professionals are as good as anywhere in the world,” Hogan said.
Established in 2003, Etihad is the official carrier of the UAE. It flies to 63 destinations in 42 countries.