One of Britain’s most successful airline chiefs faces a fine of up to £10,000 after failing to declare that he had visited a ‘red list’ country, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Millionaire James Hogan, the former chief executive of Etihad Airways, is understood to have been detained by Border Force officers at Heathrow last month after arriving on a flight from Switzerland.
Sources say that the business chief failed to disclose that just two days earlier he had been in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates which is one of 40 countries on the Government’s so-called ‘red list’.
Anyone arriving from ‘red list’ countries must check into a Government-approved quarantine hotel for ten days.
Sources claim that Mr Hogan was stopped on March 19 after a whistleblower who had learnt of his travel plans tipped off a British Embassy.
It is believed he was immediately escorted to a quarantine hotel, where he self-isolated for the mandatory ten days, but could now face a ‘heavy fine’.
James Hogan is understood to have been detained at Heathrow last month after arriving on a flight from Switzerland
Mr Hogan, who has joint British and Australian citizenship and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2017, transformed Etihad into one of the world’s top airlines during his 11-year tenure as chief executive.
In 2011 he signed a ten-year sponsorship deal with Manchester City, which included the naming rights to the football club’s stadium.
News that he was caught breaking Covid travel rules is understood to have shocked top airline bosses and is the talk of the aviation industry. A source said: ‘It’s outrageous. A lot of people are shocked and angry that individuals like this who really should know better are breaking the rules.’
The UAE has been on the ‘red list’ since January 29 because of fears that, as a major international travel hub, it could export Covid cases to Britain. There were 137 new infections per 100,000 people in the UAE last week compared to 23 per 100,000 in the UK.
Since February 15, those travelling to the UK who have visited a ‘red list’ country in the previous ten days must self-isolate in a hotel for ten days at a cost of £1,750.
Sources with knowledge of Mr Hogan’s travel plans claim that he flew from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, to Switzerland on March 17 on an Etihad flight using his Australian passport.
Knighthood Capital, a business advisory firm he founded after leaving Etihad in 2017, has offices in both Abu Dhabi and Geneva.
He stayed in Switzerland for two days before flying home on a British Airways flight on March 19.
It is understood that he used his British passport for that leg of the journey.
He is not, however, believed to have declared that he had been in the UAE on the mandatory ‘passenger locator form’ that all people travelling to the UK must submit at least 48 hours before they arrive.
One source said: ‘He seems to have flown into UAE on his Australian passport and when heading back, via Switzerland, the Australian passport was switched back to a British passport.’
Unbeknown to him, however, his movements were being tracked and he was intercepted by Border Force officers when he arrived at Heathrow.
The MoS understands that a whistleblower in either the UAE or Switzerland contacted a British Embassy after hearing Mr Hogan boast about his travel arrangements. Foreign Office officials are believed to have passed the intelligence on to the Border Force, which launched a probe.
Officials are thought to be examining whether Mr Hogan also breached quarantine rules after a trip to the UAE in February.
Sources say he flew from Abu Dhabi to Geneva on an Etihad flight on February 17 before catching a BA flight to Heathrow less than ten days later.
Mr Hogan started his aviation career working on the check-in desk for the now defunct Ansett airline at Melbourne airport in Australia. Speaking in 2013 he said: ‘The great thing about starting there is that everything – with the exception of flying the plane – I’ve actually done: operations, cargo, crewing.’
He later had two stints as an executive at British Midland and helped rebrand the airline BMI.
The father-of-three led Etihad’s spectacular growth between 2006 and 2017. In 2008 he signed one of the largest ever aircraft orders for 205 airliners worth $43 billion and that year he was crowned ‘Aviation CEO of the Year’ by a business magazine in the Middle East.
Mr Hogan this weekend declined to respond to repeated requests for comment. Speaking at their £2 million home in Windsor on Friday, his wife said: ‘He is actually in London at the moment. I can’t answer your questions.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are in a global health pandemic. People should not be travelling unless absolutely necessary and it is unacceptable, and illegal, to avoid hotel quarantine.
‘Those who seek to do so can receive a fine of up to £10,000.
‘Border Force is checking every single passenger to ensure they are complying with health measures at the border, to protect the British public and UK vaccine rollout from variants of concern.
‘Passengers who still attempt to avoid quarantine can be subject to further action from the police, including arrest for breaching the Covid regulations.’