Rumor: Christoph Mueller To Be Appointed As Etihad’s New CEO

Earlier this year we learned that James Hogan would be stepping down as Etihad’s CEO in the second half of the year. Hogan’s strategy has largely been based around Etihad’s “equity alliance,” where they’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in airlines like airberlin, Alitalia, etc.

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Those investments haven’t paid off (and worse than that, they’ve failed, especially with airberlin and Alitalia), and with oil revenue down, the government doesn’t want to continue to fund these projects.

A lot of us have been wondering who would replace James Hogan as Etihad’s CEO, as it would say a lot about the direction the airline will take. Handelsblatt Global is reporting that Christoph Mueller will shortly be announced as Etihad’s new CEO.

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For those of you not familiar with Christoph Muller, he’s known as an airline “crisis” CEO, and helped the turnaround efforts at both Aer Lingus and Malaysia Airlines.

For example, at Malaysia Airlines he made radical changes, including huge layoffs, transferring all assets to a new companyretiring the entire 777 fleet, installing a new longhaul business class product, entering into a partnership with Emirates for longhaul flying, going dry on shorthaul flights, and much more.

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However, around the middle of last year he ended his contract with Malaysia Airlines early, and instead moved to Emirates, where he became the “chief transformation officer.” That’s certainly a downgrade in terms of title, though I assume he made that move with the hope of becoming the CEO of a Gulf carrier, and it looks like that’s what might be happening here.

The above article makes two other claims:

  • Etihad was also considering another Emirates executive for the position of CEO, which suggests that the carriers might be cooperating more; I highly doubt that, and don’t think either of these moves would be coming with Emirates’ blessing
  • Lufthansa and Etihad now have a partnership, and apparently Christoph Mueller and Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, aren’t on friendly terms; we’ll see how that plays out

Christoph Mueller seems like a good candidate for the role at Etihad, as he’s a pretty no-nonsense guy. If a Gulf carrier wants to be run like a for-profit business rather than a failed investment bank, he’s the guy to do it. It’ll be interesting to see just how radical the changes would be.

What do you make of the possibility of Christoph Mueller being appointed Etihad’s new CEO?

Comments

  1. As much as people over the pond like to believe that it is all fun and games in the ME3, these are real businesses with real money , employees/stakeholders and and contracts in place.

    I do not see Emirates letting go of Mueller without an early exit fine or penalty, and it takes a while to settle into a company. He cannot and will not leave this soon.

  2. This would be a smart move. I’d expect Mueller to exit as many equity investments as possible and focus on etihads strengths which are as a very premium, almost boutique airline.

  3. Well I’m just waiting for EY to deactive a reactivated deactivated 747 then I’ll be happy.

  4. A Reader, you realize that many keyboards don’t have ‘ü’ and you may opt to spell ü as ue. Pretty much everywhere in the world you have to transcribe ü as ue.

  5. Wow it just seems like Mueller is jumping from one airline to the next in less than a year (he was MH CEO for less than a year and has only been at EK for also less than a year.) I’m still unconvinced he majorly helped MH but then again I wasn’t even sure whether MH could be saved. I wish him the best though and hope he can turn EY around for the better.

  6. Your ignore shows – obviously m you are clueless about what an i-bank is or what it does.

  7. I think the move, if true, has the blessing of Emirates. He will clean up the Etihad mess, then the airlines will merge and he will become the CEO of the United Emirates Airlines.

  8. So much nonsensical misinformation about German spelling… ironically, in the English comments section of a blog written by a fluent German speaker!

    Mueller is perfectly acceptable (unless you are writing in German on a German keyboard).

    And it’s Straße, not Straßße.

  9. Hopefully Etihad will be more accommodating of Herr Mueller than Malaysia Airlines was, such that he will not experience further “personal reasons” for leaving :p

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