Malaysia Airlines appoints Bellew as its new CEO

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia Airlines’ chief operating officer has been named its new CEO, state investment agency Khazanah Nasional said Thursday.

Khazanah, the airline’s key shareholder, said in a statement that Peter Bellew’s appointment will ensure “continuity and further progress” in the airline’s restructuring.

Bellew, a former Ryanair executive, will replace Christoph Mueller, who has resigned due to “changing personal circumstances.” Mueller will be on leave and formally step down in September, far ahead of the end of his three-year contract.

“Proud day. Just been appointed CEO of Malaysia Airlines. We will fix it,” Bellew tweeted.

The national airline suffered years of financial losses before two disasters in 2014 — the disappearance of Flight 370 and the loss of another plane shot down over Ukraine. The airline was taken private by Khazanah, and Mueller, a turnaround veteran, was hired last year to oversee a $1.56 billion overhaul that included cutting 6,000 jobs and axing unprofitable routes.

Bellew, Ryanair’s former director of flight operations, was part of the new management team.

In an interview with The Associated Press in April, Mueller described the airline as a “ship that has many leaks” but said things were back on the right track. He said the carrier recorded a profit in February, its first positive monthly result in years, and is on track to return to the black by 2018.