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There was ‘zero interference’, says Malaysia Airlines’ Peter Bellew

 | October 18, 2017

The outgoing CEO says success for the airline is “within grasp” as it needs just another 4-5% in revenue monthly to move to profits.

peter-bellew-mas-malaysia-1PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bellew said today his sudden resignation from the company was not due to “interference”.

“There has been no interference,” he said in a statement he described as a “personal response” to questions surrounding his unexpected decision to quit the post he assumed only in July last year.

“There has been none (interference) for me. Zero interference,” he stressed.

Bellew took over as CEO from Christoph Mueller, who left the airline in September 2016. He was brought in by Mueller as part of the Malaysia Airlines management team on Sept 1, 2015 as chief operations officer.

Bellew’s decision apparently took the Malaysia Airlines board by surprise, which it called “unexpected”.

Malaysia Airlines noted that Bellew had publicly “expressed his commitment to Malaysia Airlines” at a press conference with Malaysian and international media on Sept 27 when asked on speculation that he would re-join Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier which was his previous employer.

“He said that he was happy to be in Malaysia and that the turnaround of Malaysia Airlines would be ‘the greatest achievement of my life’,” the Malaysian carrier added.

Malaysia Airlines said its board of directors would meet and an announcement would be made in due course.

Bellew said Malaysia Airlines owner Khazanah Nasional Bhd, had been “incredibly supportive to me personally and corporately”.

“I tried to be transparent on a daily basis, included them in most significant meetings and dragged their staff to work for us! It has worked well.

“Although possibly I drove Khazanah mad with my constant questions and wish for consensus. I cannot thank them enough for accelerating our transformation. Tan Sri Azman (Mokhtar, Khazanah’s group managing director) could not have been more supportive.”

Addressing the question of why he was leaving after such a brief period, he said: “Negaraku (my country). Love for country is pulling me back to Ireland.

“I got a call from Ryanair late evening two weeks ago to be COO (chief operations officer). It is Ireland’s greatest company. They need my help and there is a big challenge. It is a form of national service.

“When I was asked on 27th Sept would I go to Ryanair I said no. But a week later the call came and in life we can really never say never. I am looking forward to being close again to my family and friends 14 hours away in Ireland,” he said.

Bellew called Malaysia Airlines “special”.

He said it was not just an airline “but one of the earliest symbols of the vibrancy of this amazing country”.

“People who have never flown in their life love it. Most of the country hopes it will thrive and be the Pride of the Nation again.”

Bellew said that although it would be tough to fix the problems within the airline, success was “just within our grasp”.

He said the airline needed just another 4-5% in revenue monthly and it should move to profits.

“The second quarter revenue increased 7%. The product is improving visibly: new widebody planes, new lounges, new loyalty programme, new website and better operations in Kuala Lumpur. Still some work needed on the food! Lots done – lots more to do.

“Please don’t change the brand! Much work has been done globally through the media and travel agents to rebuild our heritage.

“People love what Malaysia Airlines stands for. The brand is now revived from China to the UK and down to Australia. That work must continue and will yield the 5%+ revenue growth (needed to turn the corner),” he said.


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