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Travel industry news

04 Sep 2015

BY Edward Robertson


Malaysia Airlines’ new chief executive to be quizzed at WTM

The man charged with turning around Malaysia Airlines’ fortunes will headline this year’s aviation programme at WTM.


Christoph Mueller was appointed chief executive of the airline in May this year with the job of overhauling it following years of losses.

Problems had come to an even greater head in 2014 when the airline was struck by two tragedies. In March 2014 MH370 disappeared while flying between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing with the loss of 239 passengers and crew.


Then, in July, MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew. As a result, the airline’s fortunes plummeted and the Malaysian government gave it a bail-out package. Mueller’s appointment is part of a plan that will also see 6,000 jobs lost, while unprofitable long-haul routes are also set to be cut.


He is also well experienced in the aviation industry, which he has worked in for more than 30 years, during which time he has held senior roles at Aer Lingus, Sabena and Lufthansa.


Mueller, whose nickname is The Terminator thanks to his reputation for cutting jobs, will be interviewed on stage by John Strickland, WTM aviation expert and director of JLS Consulting, on Wednesday November 4. He is expected to talk about the turnaround he is now implementing at Malaysia Airlines which he has previously described as “technically bankrupt”.


Strickland said: “Mueller must have one of the toughest assignments in corporate history.


“Aside from the twin tragedies of 2014, Malaysian had been losing money and struggled with inefficiency, intense competition and political challenges.


“The airline made a bold move to appoint a non-Malaysian as chief executive, but Mueller is a seasoned industry executive with a successful track record, so it will be fascinating to hear how he is taking on this challenge and how his previous experience may help.”


WTM senior exhibition director Simon Press added: “Mueller’s unrivalled experience in aviation and the wider travel industry means this session will offer delegates
great insights.


“He is a highly respected executive on the global stage, and this will be one of the must-attend events during WTM 2015.”

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