An Unexpected Rippled Effect of Ryanair Crisis in Southeast Asia

(Picture: South China Morning Post)

The recent Ryanair crisis in capacity, which forced the European low cost carrier to cancel hundred of thousand of flights in Europe, made also a victim in Southeast Asia: Malaysia Airlines…

He came from Ryanair to save Malaysia Airlines. Peter Bellew took his position as MAS CEO in July 2016, vowing to turn around the carrier and bring it back to profitability. But the Irish connection spoke for itself and Bellew took by surprise MAS management by announcing that he would return to Ryanair by December 1st to become COO. Less than a month ago, Bellew had denied during a press conference to go back to Ryanair. MAS management board commented the announcement as “unexpected”.

What happened then? The Group Managing Director and CEO gave an explanation about his change of mind to the Malaysian newspaper the Star. He explained that he received a call from Ryanair two weeks ago asking him to join back. To the Star he said: ” It is Ireland’s greatest company.  They need my help and there is a big challenge.  It is a form of national service”.

Why then to have announced that it was pure speculation for him to rejoin Ryanair during the press conference on September 27? Told Bellew to the newspaper: “But a week later the call came and in life we can really never say never. ”

Here is the complete official statement from Peter Bellew around his announced departure:

“This is a personal response and not on behalf of Malaysia Airlines corporately.  I hope to answer some questions I was asked overnight.  Malaysia Airlines is special.  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.  It is a tough job to fix it.  Success is just within our grasp.  Just another 4%-5% in revenue monthly and it should move to profits. Not always easy to gain but in the second quarter revenue increased 7%.  

The product is improving visibly: new wide-body planes, new lounges, new loyalty program, 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.  

There have been news reports about Khazanah. Let me be clear. Khazanah is a Malaysian investment company linked to the Government.  They have 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.  There has been no interference.  

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 could not have been more supportive.  Terima kasih Khazanah.    

People always ask me how do I cope with Government interference.  There has been none for me.  Zero interference.  

So why am I leaving. Negaraku.  Love for country is pulling me back to Ireland.    

I got a call from Ryanair late evening two weeks ago to be COO. 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.”