Malaysia has finally been accepted as full member of criminal investigation that intends to find the real cause of downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17).
The notification about Malaysia’s full membership of joint investigation committee is done via a letter dated November 28th sent by Dutch National Public Prosecutor’s Office. The letter was received by Malaysian Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on Monday, December 1st 2014.
Flight 17, a Boeing 777 carrying 298 passengers was shot down by what is believed to be a high-velocity projectile in Donetsk, Ukraine. Donetsk is a region controlled by rebels in Ukraine.
Malaysian government is currently in possession of the flight voice and data recorder, which was retrieved after the incident by the rebels.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) airplanes are still flying, as of today. However, operating with losses for years is not a good choice for the ailing airline.
The Restructuring Plan of Malaysia Airlines
Months ago, Khazanah Nasional, Malaysian government investment arm has outlined a masterplan to resuscitate MAS and bring it to profit again (the complete PDF version of 12-point plan can be found here). Since then, there have been rumors on the appointment of a non-Malaysian as the CEO of the NewCo, the new company that is supposed to take over MAS, also known as OldCo in the restructuring plan.
Mueller From Aer Lingus to NewCo
On December 5th, Khazanah announced the name of NewCo CEO-Designate, Mr. Christoph R. Mueller. Mr. Mueller is already a huge name in aviation industry for his experience in bringing Aer Lingus back to profitability some time ago. His contract with Aer Lingus will end on May 1st 2015 but discussions are ongoing for him to start his jo at NewCo before that date but no earlier than March 1st 2015.
Aer Lingus was once marred with huge loss in sombre Irish market and has recorded loss for years. Mr. Mueller managed to turn the 78-year old Irish airline into profitability witin a year despite difficult market environment that time.
Additional Leadership Announcements
Dato’ Sri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly, current Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Celcom Axiata Berhad (Celcom), is appointed to the new MAS board as Non-Executive Director, effective January 1st 2015. Despite that, he will remain as the CEO and director of Celcom, a leading Malaysian telecommunications company.
Other positions announced including the one mentioned above:
Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof (Non-Independent Non-Executive Chairman)
Ahmad Jauhari Yahya (Managing Director/Group Chief Executive Officer)
Christoph R. Mueller (Non-Executive Director/CEO-designate of MAS NewCo)
David Lau Nai Pek (Senior Independent Non-Executive Director)
Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah (Non-Independent Non-Executive Director)
Mohd Shahazwan Mohd Harris (Non-Independent Non-Executive Director)
Tan Sri Krishnan Tan Boon Seng (Independent Non-Executive Director)
Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani (Independent Non-Executive
Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman (Independent Non-Executive Director)
Dr. Mohamadon Abdullah (Independent Non-Executive Director)
Mohd Izani Ashari (Non-Independent Non-Executive Director)
Dato’ Sri Mohammed Shazalli Ramly (Non-Executive Director)
Dato’ Fauziah Yaacob (Alternate Director to Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah / Non-Independent Non-Executive Director)
Response from Malaysians
Malaysians generally have mixed reviews with the appointment of Mueller. While many lauded that bld move to appoint a non-Malaysian in the top management of the new company, others see that a bit in a negative way and suggested that Khazanah should look into hiring a Malaysian for that post instead.
Malaysia Airlines has been known for its inefficiency, hence it has embroiled itself with years of losses. Other than inefficiency of aircraft and crew management, we were also shocked to learn about “intervention” by various parties with the ailing airline. As an independently-operated company, there should be no intervention other than the ones that are supposed to benefit the airline.
We also learned that MAS Employee Union (MASEU) has pledged its support to the new CEO-designate. We hope that other Malaysians will also support Khazanah’s noble intention to ensure the continuity of our flag carrier, Malaysia Airlines. In the meantime, some form of check-and-balance is required to ensure smooth operation of the new company, establishing the need for us to be more vigilant in supervising the new management team.
More information about the announcement can be found here.
We scoured the internet to find more information about our new Malaysia Airlines CEO-designate, Mr. Christoph Mueller. Below are some of our findings:
Career before Aer Lingus
While most of Malaysians are aware that Mr. Mueller comes from Aer Lingus, little is known about his previous career.
Christoph Mueller has a long list of credentials in aviation industry. Before his appointment to the board of executive management team in Aer Lingus, Mr. Mueller has held senior positions in big companies such as Daimler Benz Aerospace, Lufthansa AG, DHL and Deutsche Post AG. His previous role before appointment as the CEO of Aer Lingus is the Aviation Director at TUI Travel plc, a British leisure travel group (Source). He is also affiliated with Cosa Instrument Corporation (Source).
Appointment as Aer Lingus’ CEO
The German-born Christoph Müller (alternately spelt as Mueller) was appointed to the Irish airline on October 1st 2009 after its former CEO, Dermot Mannion resigned on April 6th 2009.
His vast experience in aviation industry has made him the right candidate for the position. This is necessary for the transformation of Aer Lingus, which had been embroiled in losses for three consecutive years, namely 2008, 2009 and 2010. Source
The transformation and success of Aer Lingus
In early 2000s, Aer Lingus was making good income, having scored four years of profitability from 2002 to 2005. However, it made losses from 2006 to 2008, leaving Aer Lingus an urgent need to transform itself and
Soon after his appointment, Mueller tried to solve internal problem within the company, which has resulted in unsuccessful negotiations with the worker’s union of the airline.
After Aer Lingus has entered the phase of profitability, Ryanair, another low-cost carrier popular in Europe, tried to acquire it. However the acquisition went unsuccessful due to several reasons such as opposition by company competition authorities.
Etihad, a leading Middle Eastern carrier, also partnered with Aer Lingus for codesharing, together with United Airlines, KLM, British Airways and Jetblue.
Next Step: Malaysia Airlines
The 52-year-old Mueller will start his new job at Malaysia Airlines from May 1st 2015. Analysts said it might be his toughest job ever, with Bloomberg.com describing it as “one of the toughest job in aviation” to lead a transformation effort of an airline that has lost two Boeing 777s with 537 passengers in just a year.
Mixed reaction can be seen from Malaysians. Some optimistic citizens voice out their support and solidarity with the restructuring plan while some others criticize the move. Among the ones who oppose the appointment is Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
Mark D. Martin, the chief executive officer of Martin Consulting LLC said Mueller “may need at least six to nine months to familiarize himself with the company and the culture of Southeast Asia” – Bloomberg News.
Mueller is seen to be the right person to do the job because he managed to turn around Aer Lingus into profitability in just one year while facing stiff competition with the region’s leading budget carrier, Ryanair. Meanwhile, the similar situation can be observed in Malaysia. Malaysia Airlines has already struggled to stay profitable due to stiff competition with the region’s leading budget carrier, AirAsia.
KUALA LUMPUR, December 22nd 2014 – Malaysia Airlines took delivery of its 100th Boeing 737 aircraft. Bearing the registration number 9M-MXY, the aircraft is painted with Malaysia Airlines’ new livery, consistent with other fleet of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800s.
The aircraft was piloted by Capt Kamarozaman Ahmad arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) at 2 PM on Monday and taxied towards Hangar 5 in the airport. A traditional water cannon salute is given to celebrate the arrival of the aircraft.
It first took delivery of a 737-200 in 1972 and has operated the -200, -300, -400, -500 variants of the Boeing 737. Currently, Malaysia Airlines focuses on taking delivery of Boeing 737-800, replacing all aging older-generation Boeing 737 in its fleet.
The aircraft uses Boeing Sky Interior. Malaysia Airlines is also Asia launch customer for the newly-designed interior, which features larger pivoting overhead stowage bins, LED lighting and larger window. Besides, it also has 15% better fuel efficiency compared to previous generation Boeing 737.
According to Malaysia Airlines’ chief executive officer (CEO), Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the 160-seater aircraft includes better in-flight entertainment and larger pivoting overhead stowage bins.
Thai AirAsia will see 2014 as one of its most dreadful years as it will record the biggest slump in profits in 10 years of history.
The ongoing political crises in Thailand were said to be the major contributing factor of the decline. The company said it will focus more on domestic markets rather than international ones because international market recorded huge drop in profit compared to domestic market.
It does not seem to affect much of AirAsia’s operation in other region though, as indicated y AirAsia’s desire to launch AirAsia Asean Pass, which allows users to pick flights throughout Asean (Southeast Asian) countries using pre-purchased credits. With 137 routes within AirAsia network for Asean alone, users will be spoilt for choice, according to a news report from 3sixty, AirAsia’s travel magazine.
The announcement came in shortly after previous news article by The Star Malaysia highlighting its scucess as Asia’s Best and World’s Best Low Cost Airline by Skytrax for six consecutive years (2009 to 2014).