Aer Lingus’ Christoph Mueller has taken on the toughest role in the airline industry as he accepts the task to turn round Malaysia Airlines
With word of Mueller’s departure surfacing in the summer, it was expected that he might retire. However, he’s done completely the opposite and taken on probably his biggest challenge yet: Turn around Malaysia Airlines.
Malaysia Airlines had two disasters strike this year – MH370 in March resulting in the loss of the airliner and 239 passengers and crew on board. Then in July flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine by Russian separatists killing all 298 passengers on board.
Last month, MAS posted its worst quarterly loss since late 2011, as passenger numbers and average fare yields fell sharply. Mueller will have to cut 6,000 jobs as well as turning the company around to stop it hemorrhaging money. The airline was originally state owned but is going private as part of a $1.7bn restructuring package aimed at restoring profitability in three years.
The airline executive previously worked on other turnaround projects, pursuing an aggressive job-cutting strategy at Sabena SA, before the Belgian flag-carrier’s 2001 bankruptcy and partial reinvention as Brussels Airlines.
Will the turnaround expert prevail, putting a new version of Malaysia Airlines back on its feet? Mueller leaves his port at Aer Lingus by May 1 2015 and could start his new role as soon as March 1 2015.[Picture: Christoph on the panel with Giorgio Callegari: Aeroflot, Kenny Jacobs: Ryanair and Bjorn Kjos: Norwegian at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress 2014]