Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Christoph Mueller, first foreign chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, will quit in September because of personal reasons.
Tuesday, April 19, the carrier’s owner, Khazanah Nasional Bhd., said in a statement that Mueller will quit as CEO before the end of his three-year contract. The airline will look for a replacement in consultation with the government.
“While we would have wanted Mr. Mueller to continue as planned, we also respect and ultimately agree to his decision to leave ahead of the end of his three-year contract, due to a change in his personal circumstances,” said Khazanah in a statement.
In January 2015, Mueller joined Malaysia Airlines and on May 1 of that same year, he started as CEO. He had initiated a rescue plan at Ireland’s Aer Lingus that involved hefty job cuts.
In a statement issued by Malaysia, Muller claims to be proud of what he and his team achieved as a group in such a short time, because all the hard work is showing the first signs of success. He added that, unfortunately, he won’t be able to complete his full term due personal circumstances. He didn’t elaborate.
According to Khazanah, until September Mueller will remain on the Malaysia Airlines board as a non-executive director to continue contributing to the implementation of the recovery plan.
Christopher Mueller’s work on Malaysia Airlines
The flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew aboard in March 2014 and remains missing. Four months later, the flight MH17 was blown out of the sky by a suspected ground-to-air missile over Ukraine, causing the death of all 298 passengers and crew onboard. Muller was hired right after those accidents.
In June 2015, Muller announced to a press briefing that Malaysia Airlines was “technically bankrupt”. He added that the airline was having troubles to remain competitive long before the tragic events of 2014, reporting losses for most of the past five years.
The recovering plan of Mueller included a new corporate entity, cutting about 6,000 of 18,000 employees and renegotiating older contracts for supplies that were considered expensive. He ordered new planes on lease and signed a code-share deal with Emirates Airline that is expected to help Malaysia Airlines attract more passengers.
Recently, Mueller affirmed Malaysia Airlines was on track to return to competition and gain back the trust of passengers after the twin accidents that took the life of 537 people in 2014. He also called on employees to collaborate with the recovery of the airline, he asked them to help him to get his job done before he quits.
“But let me be clear, I cannot walk on water. What is ahead can only be achieved as a team, a strong team,” he said last May.
Source: The Wall Street Journal