Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has formed Etihad Aviation Group to allow the company to grow from a single airline into a wider global aviation group.

The new group, led by group president and CEO James Hogan, will include Etihad Airways, a new division called Hala Group focused on Abu Dhabi tourism and hospitality opportunities, and an Equity Partners division to oversee the airlines subsidiaries, joint ventures and equity partners. Etihad’s expansion in recent years has involved buying equity stakes in airlines such as Germany’s Air Berlin, Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Australia’s Virgin Australia, Serbia’s Jat Airways, and India’s Jet Airways.

A chief operating officer (COO) for the Equity Partners division is currently being recruited.

Etihad is in the final stages of negotiations with for the 40 per cent stake purchase of Italian carrier Alitalia. The deal could help Alitalia avert bankruptcy.