Mueller to join Persian Gulf carrier Emirates

Former Aer Lingus and Malaysia Airlines boss to be airline’s chief innovation officer

 

Christoph Mueller, previously chief executive Malaysia Airlines, is to join Emirates airlines later this month.

The German, who also ran Aer Lingus and former Belgian flag carrier Sabena, starts on September 20th as chief digital and innovation officer, the Persian Gulf carrier said.

Emirates has expanded to become the world’s largest long-haul airline after exploiting Dubai’s position at a crossroads between Europe and the Americas and Asia, the Middle East and Africa to siphon off lucrative transfer traffic.

At the same time annual sales fell for the first time in a decade in the year through March as the oil-price decline has depressed local demand and the carrier has struggled to find worthwhile new intercontinental routes.

Resistance

The carrier’s president, Tim Clark (66), has also met resistance to the expansion of Emirates in Europe and the United States, where rival carriers say the company has benefited from unfair state funding, while failing to persuade Airbus Group to help renew the industry’s biggest wide-body jet fleet by upgrading its A380 superjumbo model.

Mr Mueller, who turns 55 in December, was hired by Malaysia Air in March 2015 after its reputation and sales were hit by two aircraft losses the previous year, one involving a plane that disappeared over the Indian Ocean, the other a missile strike on a jet flying above a Ukrainian war zone.

His strategy halted losses by recasting Kuala Lumpur as a hub for Asian rather than global travel, while cutting 6,000 jobs and shrinking capacity by almost a third.

Despite his successes, Mr Mueller announced in April that he was leaving Malaysia Air, citing unspecified personal reasons beyond his control. He agreed to serve a six-month notice period that was due to end this month, but stood down earlier after the carrier announced chief operating officer Peter Bellew as his successor at the end of June.

At Aer Lingus, Mr Mueller streamlined short-haul operations, resolved pension disputes and transformed the carrier’s Dublin base into a trans-Atlantic hub. That strategy prompted Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, to make a successful takeover bid. – (Bloomberg)

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