The man credited with turning round Irish carrier Aer Lingus has been picked to head the successor company to Malaysia Airlines, which is being taken private.
Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund and MAS’s parent company, said on Friday it had appointed Christoph Mueller as chief executive-designate and made other leadership appointments for the new company.
“The appointments announced today are part of efforts by the Government and Khazanah to lay strong foundations for the future success of our national carrier,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement.
“The government is committed to seeing through the complete overhaul of MAS to its successful conclusion,” added Najib, who also chairs Khazanah’s board of directors.
Last month, MAS posted its worst quarterly loss since late 2011, as passenger numbers and average fare yields fell sharply following two successive disasters — the loss of flight MH370 en route to China and the destruction of flight MH17 over Ukraine.
Trading in the airline’s shares will be suspended from December 15, the first step towards the struggling airline’s delisting from the stock exchange as part of a MYR6 billion ringgit (USD$1.8 billion) government-led restructuring.
Mueller, CEO of Aer Lingus since 2009, has been credited with turning around the airline despite a weak European market.
“Discussions are ongoing for Mueller to assume the post of MAS (New Company) CEO at a date prior to May 1, 2015, but no earlier than March 1, 2015,” Khazanah said in the statement.
His contract as chief executive of Aer Lingus ends on May 1, 2015.