Bellew (right) is the second MAB CEO to prematurely quit after running the airline for a short time. His predecessor, Christoph Mueller, resigned less than a year into his three-year contract.NST file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Khazanah Nasional Bhd, as the sole shareholder of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), should take the blame for the sudden exit of its chief executive officer Peter Bellew, sources said.

Bellew is the second MAB CEO to prematurely quit after running the airline for a short time. His predecessor, Christoph Mueller, resigned less than a year into his three-year contract.

A source told New Straits Times that the reason for both Bellew and Mueller leaving was apparently due to alleged interference by Khazanah in the running of the national carrier.

“Khazanah, in actual fact, was micro-managing Malaysia Airlines. There were cases where Khazanah bypassed the MAB board,” the source said.

Mueller’s sudden exit in April last year, which shocked the aviation industry, was apparently due to irreconcilable differences between Khazanah and the German aviation turnaround expert, the source added.

At the time, Khazanah tried to play down Mueller’s resignation, saying the 55-year-old German’s decision was due to a change in his personal circumstances.

It is believed that Bellew, like Mueller before him, could not agree on some of the decisions by Khazanah over the overall running of the national carrier.

Earlier today, Ryanair announced that Bellew will re-join the airline as chief operations officer beginning December 1.

Bellew will take over responsibility for all Ryanair’s flight operations, ground operations and engineering, Ryanair said in a statement.

Bellew previously worked in Ryanair until 2014, where his last post was Director of Flight Operations.

In a statement later, MAB described the announcement as “unexpected”, citing a recent press conference (on Sept 27) where the Irishman expressed his commitment to Malaysia Airlines when asked about speculation that he would re-join Ryanair.

“He (Bellew) said that he was happy to be in Malaysia and that the turnaround of Malaysia Airlines would be ‘the greatest achievement of my life’,” MAB said.

When asked about the Bellew announcement, a Khazanah official said MAB will likely issue another statement on this in the next few days.

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