Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said Tuesday its chief executive officer James Hogan will step down in the second half of 2017 after leading the fast-growing Gulf carrier for more than 10 years.

The government-owned carrier said the move is part of a "transition process" initiated by its board and Hogan last year.

Australian Hogan became head of Etihad in 2006.

"I am very proud of what we have built together at Etihad and of the company's substantial contribution to the UAE and to the development of Abu Dhabi," Hogan said in the Etihad statement.

The carrier that was launched in 2003 now has a fleet of 120 planes with 178 others on order. It serves 112 destinations.

Etihad has expanded rapidly and bought minority stakes in carriers around the world as it increased its share of global travel along with larger Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Etihad owns 49 percent of Alitalia, 29 percent of Air Berlin, 40 percent of Air Seychelles, 19.9 percent of Virgin Australia and three percent of Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

It also has a 24-percent stake in India's Jet Airways.

Source: National News Agency