Malaysia Airlines on Friday named veteran senior executive Izham Ismail as its new CEO after his predecessor’s shock departure dealt a fresh blow to the struggling carrier.
Izham, currently Malaysia Airlines chief operating officer, will be the carrier’s fourth chief executive since 2014 when the company was plunged into crisis by the disappearance of flight MH370 and the downing of MH17.
The last CEO, Peter Bellew, abruptly resigned this week after just over a year in the job to rejoin Ryanair, which has recently been hit by a crisis that led to the cancellation of thousands of flights.
The Irishman said he was returning to Ryanair out of a sense of responsibility to his native country, where the airline is based.
Bellew’s predecessor, German turnaround specialist Christoph Mueller, also resigned in a surprise move about a year ago.
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that Izham’s appointment was in line with the carrier’s recovery plan which provides for the development of Malaysian talent.
“I am proud that he is our own internal home grown talent and I am confident that he will be able to take the airline further forward and ensure the turnaround plan is met,” said Mohammed Nor Yusof, Malaysia Airlines chairman.
Izham joined Malaysia Airlines as a pilot in 1979 and has held a series of senior positions at the company. He will take up the role of chief executive in December.
The devastating MH370 and MH17 disasters had pushed the perennially loss-making airline to the brink of bankruptcy as bookings dried up.
Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Four months later, MH17 was blown from the sky by a suspected Russian-made ground-to-air missile over war-torn Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew.