Aer Lingus chief Christoph Mueller appointed CEO-designate of Malaysia Airlines Bhd

Christoph Mueller, chief executive officer of Aer Lingus Group Plc, poses for a photograph following an interview at the Goring hotel in London, UK on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013. Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS), which is due to be taken private a
Christoph Mueller, chief executive officer of Aer Lingus Group Plc, poses for a photograph following an interview at the Goring hotel in London, UK on Wednesday, Feb 6, 2013. Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS), which is due to be taken private after being hit by two separate air disasters this year, on Friday sees new leadership appointments for the new company that will replace it. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - The man credited with turning round Irish carrier Aer Lingus has been picked to head the successor company to Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS), which is being taken private after being hit by two separate air disasters.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund and MAS’s parent company, said on Friday it had appointed Christoph R. Mueller as chief executive-designate and made other leadership appointments for the new company called Malaysia Airlines Bhd.

“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 issued by Khazanah.

“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 then the destruction of flight MH17 over Ukraine. Trading in the airline’s shares will be suspended from Dec 15, the first step towards the struggling airline’s delisting from the stock exchange as part of a 6 billion-ringgit (S$2.28 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 CEO of Aer Lingus ends on May 1, 2015.

Other nominations include Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, a telecommunications and marketing expert with no experience in the aviation sector, to the board, and aviation veteran Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid as chairman of MAS’ corporate reskilling centre. Shazalli currently heads unlisted telecommunications firm Celcom Axiata Bhd, a post he has held for nine years and will retain. Bashir is an adviser at Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd , which he led as managing director for 11 years.