Less than year after having been tasked with the turnaround of ailing Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), CEO Christoph Mueller has announced he will step down in September, citing "changing personal circumstances.” Mueller has expressed his intention to the MAB board to remain as a non-executive director, the carrier said.
´The decision to leave the airline in September, well before the end of his three-year contract, has not only surprised the government-controlled carrier, but also the industry at large.
The former Aer Lingus CEO, also known as the "Terminator" because of his often tough measures to turn around airlines, was named CEO of Malaysia Airlines in late 2014 and took the position on May 1, 2015. At that time the carrier was dealing with the aftermath of two fatal Boeing 777 crashes - flights MH370 and MH17.
MAS Cargo survived Mueller’s austerity program
One of his intentions was to get rid of the entire freighter fleet to lower expenditures. This plan, however, he revoked last November.
MAB Chairman Md Nor Yusof said in an April 19 statement: "We are very disappointed to lose Christoph as CEO but we fully understand his reasons and respect his need to do this."
MAB has begun a search for a new chief executive and is considering both internal and external candidates, it said.
In an interview with Associated Press in early April, Mueller described the airline as a "ship that has many leaks," but added that, after recording a profit in February, its first positive monthly result in years, the airline was on track to return to the black by 2018.
AMAC sees the light of day
In a separate development, seven Malaysian carriers have joined forces to form the Association of Malaysian Air Carriers (AMAC).
Subject to the approvals from the respective boards and Registrar of Society, the founding airlines include Malaysia Airlines Berhad, MASwings, Firefly, AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia X Berhad, Malindo Air and Berjaya Air. The association will be open to all Malaysian Air Carriers.
The purpose of AMAC is to provide a common platform to discuss issues affecting the industry.
Nol van Fenema