Malaysia Airlines names company veteran Izham Ismail as new group CEO

Captain Izham will be the troubled company's third chief executive in three years as it continues to recover from the disappearance of flight MH370 as well as the downing of MH17.
Captain Izham will be the troubled company's third chief executive in three years as it continues to recover from the disappearance of flight MH370 as well as the downing of MH17.PHOTO: TWITTER/BERNAMA

Malaysia Airlines announced on Friday (Oct 20) that a company veteran, chief operating officer Izham Ismail, will be the group's new CEO following the departure of Irishman Peter Bellew.

Izham will be the troubled company's third chief executive in three years as it continues to recover from the disappearance of flight MH370 as well as the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Izham will assume the role on Dec 1, taking over from Bellew whose abrupt resignation after just over a year in the job was announced on Tuesday. The Irishman, who will return to Ryanair, is currently on administrative leave.

In a statement issued by the company late on Friday, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) chairman Md Nor Yusof said of Izham:"He has a valuable breadth of understanding that spans airline operations and business management. I am proud that he is our own internal home grown talent and I am confident that he will be able to take the airline further forward and ensure the turnaround plan is met.” 

To ensure a smooth transition, a Board Executive Committee will be in place for up to six months, the company said in the statement. The committee will be led by chairman Md Nor Yusof and will include Board members Krishnan Tan Boon Seng, Zamzamzairani Isa and Sheranjiv Sammanthan.

Izham’s appointment is in line with the succession plan that MAB has put in place as part of a recovery plan for the national carrier, the statement said.

As COO, he was responsible for the operations division, which includes flight and airport operations as well as engineering.  He led the restructuring of the engineering division for more efficient and leaner operations, and was also responsible for the airline’s fuel savings initiative.

The industry veteran began his career with Malaysia Airlines as a pilot in 1979, the statement added. He flew Malaysia Airlines’ first B777-200 from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur and back, setting new world records for longest flight and fastest round-the-world flight by a commercial airliner, with a total flight time of 41 hours 59 minutes over 23,310 miles.

He has climbed the ranks of MAS over the years, including as Senior Instructor Pilot, Fleet Manager, and Director of Operations. Prior to becoming COO in 2016, he was CEO of MASwings, MAS’ sister company in Sabah and Sarawak.

Izham said on Friday his appointment to the helm of the national carrier is "an honour and a big responsibility", The Star reported

"My entire career has been spent with Malaysia Airlines and it is very much my family," he was quoted as saying. 

"We are on track towards a full and complete transformation...I am looking forward to working with my MH colleagues to make this airline the pride of the nation again."