PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew will return to Ryanair Holdings PLC as COO effective Dec 1 despite previously denying that he will rejoin the Irish carrier.
Bellew spent a decade at Ryanair until 2014, and was director of flight operations before joining Malaysia Airlines as COO in September 2015. He took over as CEO on July 1, 2016 when Christoph Mueller left the national carrier.
Upon his return, Bellew will take over responsibility for all Ryanair’s flight operations, ground operations and engineering but with a specific responsibility for pilot production, training and career development, according to Ryanair’s filing with the London Stock Exchange (LSE) today.
Ryanair said the pilot production, training and career development focus is aimed at ensuring that the pilot rostering failure which it suffered in early September will never be repeated.
In response to Ryanair’s filing with the LSE, Malaysia Airlines said it has taken note of the unexpected announcement by Ryanair regarding Bellew.
“At a press conference with Malaysian and international media on Sept 27, 2017, Bellew had expressed his commitment to Malaysia Airlines when asked to comment on speculation that he would rejoin Ryanair,” Malaysia Airlines said in a statement today.
Malaysia Airlines’ board of directors is expected to meet before making an announcement.
“Our operations and services continue as normal, and our commitment and priority remain with our customers. The turnaround of Malaysia Airlines remains on track and on schedule, as per the MAS Recovery Plan,” it said.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said: “We are pleased to welcome Bellew back to Ryanair. Having worked previously in a senior role in our operations team, Bellew has an unrivalled knowledge of our business model and how we maintain controlled growth, with industry leading punctuality, for the benefit of our customers and our people.
“Bellew will lead a significant transformation in the way we reward and interact with our pilots, improve their working environment and career development over the coming years as we grow the fleet to some 600 aircraft and expand our traffic, at lower fares, to 200 million customers per annum,” he said.
Bellew, who will replace Michael Hickey at Ryanair, said he is 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 six years.”
Bellew, whose contract with Malaysia Airlines lasts till 2019, had said that he would not be leaving, contrary to talk of him returning to Ryanair, and that succession was not an issue as there were five to six internal candidates who could take over when needed.
He had also told reporters that he was happy to be in Malaysia and that the turnaround of Malaysia Airlines would be “the greatest achievement of my life”.
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