John McEwan’s decision to step down from Advantage has seen Abta appoint Monarch Travel Group managing director Hugh Morgan as interim chairman.
McEwan, whose second and final two-year term was due to end this summer, was to remain as chairman until a successor was announced.
However, his retirement from the Advantage consortium last Friday after eight years means he is not an Abta member and can no longer continue as chairman.
Nominations for the post close on May 8. Any prospective candidates require backing from two board members. No names were understood to have been put forward as Travel Weekly went to press.
At last week’s Abta AGM, motions were passed to reduce the allowance paid to the chairman “in line with market conditions” and to allow the board to remove the chairman at any time if 75% are in favour.
If more than two contenders apply for the role, the decision will be put to a members’ vote. If not, a new chairman could be in place in May.
McEwan, who will be pursuing non‑executive roles in travel, said the next chairman needed to be able to unite the factions within Abta.
“It does not really matter where the individual comes from, but the new chairman has to be aware they represent the whole membership,” he said.
“Industry knowledge is one thing, but the ability to see the big picture in terms of big policy issues and ability to act on behalf of the overall membership is another.
“There are some very high-calibre people on the board now.”
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said McEwan had been “scrupulously fair” and brought his vast industry experience to bear. “Abta has continued to develop under his chairmanship and, as a result, the association is stronger today than it was four years ago,” he said.
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