Ryanair named Peter Bellew – the current Chief Executive Officer at Malaysia Airlines – its new Chief Operations Officer (COO). Ryanair applauds the return of its ex-employee, who will now be tasked with solving the consequences of the pilot rotation fiasco. Malaysia Airlines, however, claims that Bellew’s leave came out of the blue. He is the third CEO to leave the airline within three years.
Ryanair announced in a statement that Peter Belew is returning to Ryanair, where he worked until 2014 as Director of Flight Operations. He will undertake the role of COO from December 1, 2017. “I am excited to return home to Ryanair and take up the challenge to grow the operation sustainably,” Bellew is quoted in the statement. “I look forward to working with all the team and all the crews I know so well to further develop our growth to 600 aircraft over the next 6 years.”
“We are pleased to welcome Peter back to Ryanair. Having worked previously in a senior role in our Operations team, Peter has an unrivaled knowledge of our business model and how we maintain controlled growth, with industry-leading punctuality, for the benefit of our customers and our people,” said Michael O’Leary, Ryanair. “Peter will lead a significant transformation in the way we reward and interact with our pilots, improve their working environment and career development over the coming years as we grow the fleet to some 600 aircraft and expand our traffic, at lower fares, to 200 million customers per annum.”
Malaysia Airlines, on the other hand, seems to be completely surprised by the move. As the carrier’s official statement says “Malaysia Airlines takes note of the unexpected announcement by Ryanair […] regarding CEO Peter Bellew”. However, the airline is also announcing the upcoming meeting of its Board of Directors and ensures the public that its operations and services continue as normal, while the “turnaround of Malaysia Airlines remains on track and on schedule, as per the MAS Recovery Plan”.
Back to Ryanair to solve the mess
The previous Ryanair Chief Operations Officer Michael Hickey is stepping down at the end of October, following the flight cancellations scandal the Irish low-cost carrier has been experiencing since September 2017. Bellew, who is taking over responsibility for all Ryanair’s flight operations, ground operations and engineering, will also have the specific responsibility for pilot production, training and career development. His mission will be to ensure “that the pilot rostering failure which Ryanair suffered in early September will never be repeated,” the company highlights in a statement.
Cancellations, caused by the lack of available pilots to operate full schedules, brought to light the pilots’ concerns about their employment contracts and salaries. Because of the row, over 20,000 flights have already been cancelled, forcing the airline to reduce its growth expectations by 6 million passengers in 2017 and 2018. Ryanair is also facing enforcement action from the UK Civil Aviation Authority for “persistently misleading passengers” about their rights.
On October 6, 2017 Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary made a personal plea to the airline’s pilots, urging them not to seek employment with other Europe’s LCCs, namely Norwegian and promising them a better pay and contracts – a position, contrary different to the one O’Leary is known for.
A series of unfortunate events
Bellew’s exit comes in a time when Malaysia Airlines is trying to recover from a circuit of misfortunes dating back to 2014. The airline lost two passenger planes during that year in tragic circumstances. The first one – Flight MH370 – mysteriously disappeared on the route from Australia to China and has not been found yet; later that year another of its planes – Flight MH17 – was shot down over Eastern Ukraine.
After the resignation of Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, who was the CEO in 2014, Malaysia Airlines had a difficult time sustaining its executives. Yahya was replaced by Christoph Mueller, who unexpectedly resigned in 2016, making his successor – Bellew – the third CEO to leave the airline during the course of three years.
Source – AeroTime