Malaysia Airlines appoints Peter Bellew as its new MD and CEO

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KUALA LUMPUR (June 30): Malaysia Airlines Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of state fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s aviation arm Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd (MAG), has appointed its chief operating officer Peter Bellew to succeed outgoing managing director (MD) cum chief executive officer (CEO) Christoph Mueller, in what it calls an “accelerated leadership transition”.

The appointment confirms a report by The Edge Weekly in its June 20-June 26 publication, citing sources, that Bellew had been offered the top job at Malaysia Airlines by Khazanah.
In a statement today, Malaysia Airlines said Mueller, who resigned on March 10 this year and is serving his notice until Sept 9, will go on leave and step down from the national carrier’s board from July 1 onwards.

Malaysia Airlines said Mueller will remain available to the company until the end of his notice period, to help ensure a smooth leadership transition.

“The leadership changes have been approved by the sole shareholder of MAG,” the airline said, adding that Bellew’s appointment follows a comprehensive search for a new CEO conducted by Khazanah and the Malaysia Airlines board.

“The process, which commenced in April 2016, involved internal and external, as well as local and foreign candidates,” it said.

Bellew has been a member of Malaysia Airlines’s senior management team since the first day of its full operations on Sept 1, 2015.

“His appointment as the new group MD and CEO will ensure continuity in the execution of the Malaysia Airlines’ turnaround plan and further progress of the overall restructuring effort, as set out by Khazanah in its 12-point MAS Recovery Plan (MRP),” the statement read.

An Irish national, Bellew has over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry.

He joined Malaysia Airlines from Ryanair Ltd, where he served in various roles with increasing responsibility since 2006. He left the airline as the Director of Flight Operations, being responsible for 72 bases, operating a total of 320 aircraft.

“Peter has been a key figure in the airline’s senior management team, responsible for executing the biggest and fastest transformation in our history,” MAG and Malaysia Airlines chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof said.

Md Nor also commented that Bellew is an exceptional leader and has been an invaluable contributor to the transformation of the airline, over the last 10 months.

“Peter and the senior management team have established themselves positively within the company, especially in their rapport with employees, as well as externally among the aviation community,” he said.

In this regard, Md Nor said Bellew’s appointment will pave the way for a smooth transition, to ensure the continued success of the national airline.

“I would like to thank Christoph for all the work begun under his leadership, which has seen the airline set on a path towards reclaiming its position among the world’s leading airlines,” he said.

Khazanah also issued a statement to say Bellew’s appointment was discussed and recorded at the sovereign fund’s board of directors meeting, which was chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak last Tuesday (June 21).

As group MD and CEO, Khazanah said Bellew’s primary tasks are to successfully implement the turnaround of Malaysia Airlines, as well as develop Malaysian leadership succession at Malaysia Airlines.

Khazanah also said the implementation of the MRP over the past 22 months period since its launch on Aug 29, 2014 — slightly more than one-third of its five-year duration — is on schedule and on track, with “encouraging signs of progress thus far”.  

“In this regard, Khazanah, working together with the MAB (Malaysia Airlines) Board, senior management, employees, and the Government, will continue to support and drive the restructuring of Malaysia Airlines further forward, on the path towards recovery and sustainable profitability,” it added.