Aer Lingus chief executive to step down next year

Christoph Mueller to leave next May after running the airline for the past five years

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller is to leave the company in May 2015

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller is to leave the company in May 2015

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 07:26

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller is to step down as chief executive in May 2015, the airline said on Friday.

Mr Mueller was appointed chief executive at Aer Lingus in July 2009 and has served as executive director since September 2009.

In a statement Mr Mueller said that after five years at the helm it was the right time to hand over the reins to someone new.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my five years as chief executive of Aer Lingus since 2009. There have been very significant achievements delivered by the board and management team in that period of time. The last five years has involved very hard work for the entire team at Aer Lingus and it is rewarding to see that the company is well positioned both strategically and financially,” he said.

Aer Lingus said the process to select a successor to Mr Mueller will commence shortly.

Mr Mueller has endured a tough time of it over the last few months. A row erupted in May over the generous increase in his pension payment from 25 per cent of his basic salary to 40 per cent at a time when staff were being asked to stomach large wage cuts in the benefits from their pension scheme.

The Aer Lingus board also had to put up with a damaging one-day strike by cabin crew over rostering issues, which the company said has cost it €10 million.

Last month the airline warned that full-year operating profits will likely be between 10 per cent to 20 per cent lower than 2013 because of the impact of industrial action.

The board ‘reluctantly’ accepted a proposal by the Government-appointed expert panel to increase payments to serving personnel in June. It agreed to increase its proposed capital injection into new pension arrangements for serving personnel from €110million to €146.7million.

The airline also agreed to allocate €14 million on top of €30 million previously promised, for pension arrangements for former personnel who have left the company but not yet retired.

Mr Mueller was formerly the aviation director at international leisure travel group TUI Travel before replacing Dermot Mannion at chief executive at Aer Lingus in July 2009.

The airline’s chairman Colm Barrington said Aer Lingus was grateful for the contribution Mr Mueller had made since joining the group.

“Under Christoph’s strategic leadership, Aer Lingus has been transformed into a strong, consistently profitable airline with a clear strategic direction, a resilient business model as a value carrier and an improved cost base. Christoph has placed Aer Lingus in a position where we can look to the future with confidence and can continue to develop and grow the airline for the benefit of our customers, our employees and our shareholders,” he said.

“I am also particularly grateful to Christoph that in mutually agreeing a departure date that is some time away, in May 2015, Aer Lingus has sufficient time to both conduct a thorough process to select and appoint a new chief executive and to ensure that a comprehensive and seamless transition process is completed,” he added.

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