Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) today announced that its chief executive officer and managing director Christoph Mueller will leave the company in September 2016, following his request to depart before the end of his three-year contract.

In ensuring continuity and an orderly succession, Mueller will serve a six-month notice period to September 2016.

Following this, he has expressed his intention to the MAB Board of Directors (BOD) to remain with the airline as Non-Executive Director.

"The Board has acknowledged Mr Mueller’s plan to leave ahead of time, which is due to his changing personal circumstances, and has commenced a search for a new CEO, which will encompass both internal and external potential candidates," said MAB in a statement here today.

MAB chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof said the company was disappointed to lose Christoph as CEO but we fully understand his reasons and respect his need to do this.

“On behalf of the Board, the management team and the employees, I want to thank Christoph for his immense contribution to the restructuring of Malaysia Airlines. Since he joined, Christoph has made a significant impact in putting the airline on the desired trajectory towards full recovery and we appreciate all his efforts.

"His hard work over the last year has seen Malaysia Airlines set on a path where there has already been encouraging progress. There are other significant strategic decisions already in the pipeline which Christoph has made preparations for and will manage through," said Md Nor.

MAB said the Board is actively working to search for a new CEO, after which Mueller has indicated his intention to stay on as Non-Executive Director of the Board to facilitate an orderly transition.

The Board has also appointed Chief Operations Officer Peter Bellew as Executive Director on the MAB Board with immediate effect. He joins Chief Financial Officer Omar Siddiq, who is already an Executive Director on the Board.”

Mueller joined the Board of Malaysia Airlines System Berhad (MAS) as a Non-Executive Director 1 January 2015 and became CEO-designate of MAB on 1 March 2015.

He succeeded Ahmad Jauhari Yahya as Managing Director and CEO of MAS on 1 May 2015.

As MAB CEO, his primary tasks were to lead the turnaround of the national carrier and to build local succession, for which he has laid firm foundations with a strong management team in place.

“I am proud of what we have achieved as a team in such a short time and that the hard work of all of our employees is already showing the first signs of success. I am looking forward to continuing this exciting task for another six months in my executive position,” said Mueller in the statement.

“Unfortunately, personal circumstances will make it difficult for me to complete my full term. The airline has been restructured and re-positioned to regain its leading position in customer experience and to continue to connect Malaysia with the world.

“I am confident that the company is now on the right track to succeed in its next phase of growth under a new CEO. I remain fully committed to do everything possible to facilitate the continuing turnaround of Malaysia Airlines,” he added.