In May 2015, Christoph Mueller was hired as Malaysia Airlines’ CEO, tasked with turning the airline around after they had two major crashes and were in a terrible financial situation. Just over a year later, in June 2016, he quit suddenly. Shortly after the announcement it was revealed that Mueller would be moving to Emirates, where he’s the chief transformation officer.
At Malaysia Airlines, Mueller was replaced by Peter Bellew, who was Malaysia’s chief operating officer under Mueller. Well, just a bit over a year after taking the job, he has quit as well. Peter Bellew has stepped down as CEO of Malaysia Airlines, and will work for Ryanair, where he’ll be the chief operations officer. Even more interesting, the announcement was made by Ryanair rather than Malaysia, as it seems that his former employer had no clue he was quitting.
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 17, 2017
Two Malaysia Airlines CEOs have quit just a bit over a year after taking the job, and both have taken pretty significant job title “downgrades.” In the case of Bellew, he’s returning to a company he used to work for, though at a terrible time, when Ryanair’s performance has been awful, as they’ve been plagued with endless cancelations.
Bellew has the following statement on Ryanair’s website:
“I am excited to return home to Ryanair and take up the challenge to grow the operation sustainably. I look forward to working with all the team and all the crews I know so well to further develop our growth to 600 aircraft over the next 6 years.”
It seems like this announcement completely caught Malaysia Airlines off guard. According to The Malay Mail:
Malaysia Airlines said today it has been made aware of chief executive officer Peter Bellew’s “unexpected” return to Ryanair as its chief operations officer.
In a statement, Malaysia Airlines pointed out that Bellew had previously denied he would rejoin the Irish airline.
“Malaysia Airlines takes note of the unexpected announcement by Ryanair Holdings PLC to the London Stock Exchange regarding CEO Peter Bellew,” Malaysia Airlines said.
The statement pointed out that during a press conference on September 27, Bellew had expressed his commitment to Malaysia Airlines when asked to comment on speculation that he would re-join Ryanair.
Bellew had reportedly said that he was happy to be in Malaysia and that the turnaround of Malaysia Airlines would be “the greatest achievement of my life”.
Malaysia Airlines seems to generally be on the road to recovery, and it seems like Bellew has done a good job. We obviously don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, as you’d think he’d want to stay on for more than a year or so and get the airline back to profitability for the purposes of his career.
However, clearly there’s a lot going on that we don’t know of, given that two CEOs have quit in such a short timeframe.
What do you make of Malaysia Airlines’ CEO stepping down?
(Tip of the hat to May Lim)