Peter Bellew leaving his job as CEO of Malaysia
Airlines to rejoin Ryanair as COO.
Ryanair reeling from booking cancellation crisis and
dispute with pilots.
“They need my help and there is a big challenge. It is
a form of national service,” Bellew said.
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia Airlines’ outgoing chief
executive Peter Bellew said on Wednesday his decision to leave
the airline for Ryanair was due to a sense of responsibility to
his native country.
His departure after just over a year in charge means Malaysia’s
national carrier must appoint a third chief executive in three
years as it continues to recover from two tragedies in 2014, when
flight MH370 disappeared in mysterious circumstances and flight
MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.
Ryanair announced on Tuesday that Bellew, its former director of
flight operations, would be rejoining the Irish airline as chief
operating officer on December 1 to help address a pilot-staffing
issue that has
led to the cancellation of around 20,000 flights.
Bellew, an Irish national, said his return to Ryanair was due to
“love for country” and that he could not turn down a request to
help the struggling airline.
“It is Ireland’s greatest company. They need my help and there is
a big challenge. It is a form of national service,” he said in a
statement released in his personal capacity and not on behalf of
Malaysia Airlines said Bellew’s decision to leave for Ryanair was
“unexpected”, and that its board would meet to discuss the move.
Bellew was Malaysia Airlines’ chief operating officer before
taking over as chief executive in July last year, after his
predecessor Christoph Mueller abruptly quit less than a year
after being hired for a three-year mission to revive the firm.
Under Bellew’s leadership, Malaysia Airlines has been
restructuring its fleet, while its owner, the state investment
fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has said it plans to re-list the
airline’s shares on the stock exchange in 2019.
Bellew in his statement refuted reports in Malaysian media saying
that political interference had played a role in his departure.
A report by the New Straits Times, citing unnamed sources, on
Tuesday had said both Bellew and Mueller’s departures were due to
Khazanah’s interference in the running of the state-controlled
“Khazanah, in actual fact, was micro-managing Malaysia Airlines.
There were cases where Khazanah bypassed the MAB board,” a source
was quoted by the paper as saying.
But Bellew said there was no interference. “They (Khazanah) have
been incredibly supportive to me personally and corporately…
there has been no interference”.
Khazanah in a statement called the allegations “erroneous and
Malaysia Airlines was de-listed from the Kuala Lumpur Stock
Exchange in 2014, and had removed around 6,000 jobs – at least a
third of its workforce – at the peak of the airline’s crisis in
Under its restructuring program, the company is in talks to buy
several widebody aircraft and is targeting a return to profits
Bellew said Malaysia Airlines needed just 4-5% increase in
monthly revenue to return to profitability and urged the airline
not to change its brand.
“Much work has been done globally through the media and travel
agents to rebuild our heritage…That work must continue and will
yield the 5% revenue growth,” he said.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)