He is likely to start work in the role in January reporting to CEO James Hogan at the company's Abu Dhabi HQ.
Burns left BA, where he was head of corporate comms, in October following price-fixing allegations (PRWeek, 13 October). His boss, commercial director Martin George, also resigned.
The duo were placed on leave of absence in June as BA's offices were raided by the Office of Fair Trading (PRWeek, 22 June).
At Etihad, Burns effectively replaces Ian Ferguson-Brown. Ferguson-Brown left Etihad last week and is believed to have relocated to the US.
Burns joined BA as head of comms in 2001. Prior to that was a consultant for Bell Pottinger, before which he was media relations manager, then newsdesk manager, for BA. He has also worked at American Airlines.
Etihad is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi government. Etihad - which started operations in 2003 - uses Fleishman-Hillard for global PR. It hired the agency last year (PRWeek, 2 Sept 2005).