Malaysia Airlines CEO resigns

Christoph Mueller will step away in September, citing "personal circumstances".

Christoph Mueller
Christoph Mueller

One year into a three-year contract, Malaysia Airlines CEO Christoph Mueller has confirmed he is resigning from the post.

Mueller, who took over as CEO of the ailing carrier in March 2015, announced his decision yesterday in a short statement.

"I am proud of what we have achieved as a team in such a short time," Mueller said.

"Unfortunately, personal circumstances will make it difficult for me to complete my full term."

He has agreed to stay until September to ensure a smooth transition, and will continue as a non-executive director. Malaysia Airlines has confirmed it is looking for a replacement, and is considering both internal and external candidates.

Mueller was brought in after having huge success turning around failing Irish airline Aer Lingus.

His mandate was to help Malaysia Airlines balance the books and recover from the terrible impact of the MH370 and MH17 disasters, after one plane disappeared and the other was shot down over Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines was already losing money before the two incidents, but Mueller said following the disasters the airline was "technically bankrupt" and required a full rebrand.

He axed 6,000 jobs, reduced pay and cut unprofitable travel routes. Unsurprisingly, Mueller met resistance along the way, from Malaysia’s largest flight attendants’ union.

However, Mueller said last month that Malaysia Airlines made its first small profit for "many years" in February and is on track to be fully profitable again in 2018.

In a separate statement, Malaysian state investment firm Khazanah Nasional, which took over the airline, said Mueller has "put in place a strong management team" and that the carrier’s recovery is "on track".

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