Malaysia Airlines CEO Christoph Mueller to leave in September due to 'personal circumstances'

Christoph Mueller, CEO of Malaysia Airlines, will be leaving in September, before his three-year contract expires.
Christoph Mueller, CEO of Malaysia Airlines, will be leaving in September, before his three-year contract expires.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AFP) - Malaysia Airlines Berhad's (MAB) Chief Executive and Managing Director Christoph Mueller will leave in September, well before the end of his three-year contract, the company said on Tuesday (April 19).

 “I am proud of what we have achieved as a team in such a short time and that the hard work of all of our employees is already showing the first signs of success,” he said in a statement issued by Malaysia Airlines.

“Unfortunately, personal circumstances will make it difficult for me to complete my full term,” he added without elaborating.

Mueller will serve a six-month notice period to September 2016 and has expressed his intention to the MAB board to remain as a non-executive director, the carrier said.

"We are very disappointed to lose Christoph as CEO but we fully understand his reasons and respect his need to do this,"MAB Chairman Md Nor Yusof said.

MAB has begun a search for a new CEO and is considering both internal and external candidates, it said.

A veteran of a turnaround effort at Aer Lingus Group Plc in Ireland, Mueller became managing director and CEO at 
Malaysia Airlines in May 2015, charged with reviving the carrier that was racking up losses even before hundreds of people died in two 2014 crashes. 

Malaysia state investor Khazanah took MAS private in 2014 as part of a RM 6 billion (S$2.09 billion) restructuring aimed at returning the carrier to profit within three years. After cutting 6,000 jobs, slashing pay and trimming capacity by 30 per cent, Mueller said the major changes were done.  

Malaysia Airlines is on track to return to profitability and the airline’s restructuring effort is proceeding as planned and the company is finished laying off employees, Mueller said in an interview in February.

The carrier wants to buy and own some aircraft once its targets are met, as its existing fleet structure is skewed toward leased planes, he said.

MAS suffered twin disasters in 2014 after flight MH370, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared in March. In July 2014 another flight, MH17, was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.