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Atlas Air snags ex-Etihad cargo chief for C-suite role

Martin Drew is latest Middle East airfreight executive to find new position

Atlas Air operates the largest fleet of Boeing 747 cargo jets in the world. (Photo: Atlas Air Worldwide)

Another top-level cargo executive for a Middle Eastern airline has found a new job. Atlas Air, which leases and flies cargo and passenger aircraft for airlines, logistics companies, sports teams and the U.S. military, on Monday named former Etihad Airways cargo chief Martin Drew as chief strategy and transformation officer.

Last week, airport services company Swissport named Guillaume Halleux, previously the chief cargo officer at Qatar Airways, as its chief commercial officer. Swissport is a major cargo handler for airlines around the world.

Atlas Air is the largest operator of Boeing 747 jumbo jet freighters in the world and also flies other types of Boeing aircraft. Top customers include Amazon, the U.S. Department of Defense, Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao and global logistics giant Kuehne+Nagel. 

The Atlas Air C-suite has seen several changes in recent months. Michael Steen succeeded John Dietrich as CEO in May after a group of investors bought the cargo-focused aviation company and took it private in March. Richard Broekman was promoted to chief commercial officer, taking the role previously held by Steen, with the additional role of head of sustainability.

Chief Financial Officer Spencer Schwartz also retired in June, and the company promoted one of his assistants to be interim CFO.

Drew resigned from Etihad over the summer but did not indicate what he planned to do next.

Atlas Air said Drew’s experience at a combination carrier such as Etihad will be valuable for Atlas’ passenger and cargo operations. He is tasked with driving strategic growth initiatives and diversifying services, partnerships and geographic reach. 

Drew oversaw all aspects of Etihad Cargo, including global sales, marketing and operations. He joined Etihad in 2005 and several years ago spent 18 months helping Jet Airways in India grow its cargo business before returning to Etihad Cargo as senior vice president, Americas.

Meanwhile, Steven Polmans, chairman of The International Air Cargo Association, left his job as vice president of business development and freezone regulatory affairs at Abu Dhabi Airports last summer after 18 months to start his own air logistics consulting firm. He was recruited by the emirate to develop a long-term strategy for the free trade zone following a successful run developing an efficient cargo community at Brussels Airport in Belgium.

The Loadstar in June suggested the Drew and Polmans departures had something to do with changes in strategy and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, ADQ, taking full ownership of Etihad in October.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

Twitter: @ericreports / LinkedIn: Eric Kulisch / [email protected]


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]