Malaysia Airlines boss quits after less than a year
The man charged with bringing Malaysia Airlines back from the brink has decided to quit the business less than a year after taking the helm at the beleaguered carrier.
Christoph Mueller, best-known for his turnaround of Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus, is to step down as chief executive of Malaysia Airlines in September, after serving six months notice.
He only became chief executive at the start of May last year and was contracted to the carrier for three years. However, Malaysia Airlines said today that Mr Mueller was leaving because of “his changing personal circumstances” and that it had now started the hunt for his successor.
The carrier, which had been loss-making since 2010, was plunged into crisis after the tragic loss of two of its airliners in 2014 – flight MH370 disappeared in mysterious circumstances and MH17 was shot down over strife-torn Ukraine.
Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund was forced to step in to renationalise the business after the disasters knocked confidence in the carrier and Mr Mueller was appointed to revive its fortunes.
The aviation industry veteran, who acquired the nickname ‘The Terminator’ for the cuts his pushed through at Aer Lingus, went on to slash 6,000 jobs at Malaysia Airlines, cut pay and scrapped routes to stabilise its finances.
Mr Mueller warned after he took the job last year that the carrier was “technically bankrupt”, but the airline generated a small monthly profit in February, which it trumpeted as a turning point. He intends to stay on its board as non-executive director.
“The airline has been restructured and repositioned to regain its leading position in customer experience and to continue to connect Malaysia with the world,” Mr Mueller said. “I am confident that the company is now on the right track to succeed in its next phase of growth under a new CEO.”
Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, the airline’s chairman, said: “We are very disappointed to lose Christoph as CEO but we fully understand his reasons and respect his need to do this.”