Christoph Mueller has made his reputation for successful crisis management at troubled airlines at Aer Lingus and at his most recent gig, as CEO of Malaysia Airlines, which he reconstructed in the aftermath of the MH370 and MH17 tragedies.
His next post is reported, as yet unofficially, as being chief transformation officer at Emirates. With his record of past and current achievements, and a title like that, the news could be described as of transfixing interest to other airlines and the industry’s analysts.
Which isn’t for a moment to suggest that Emirates is in crisis. It is in a state of robust financial health, although like many airlines, the results are driven by growth being stronger than yields, as it noted in its full financial results to the end of March this year.
What Emirates does, and why, is of the clearest importance to other carriers and their governments. But we know Emirates is soon to announce all new products for its operations, not just a new business class for its 777s which seemed pitched at being purposefully less amenable that those of its ME competitors Etihad and Qatar Airways, as well as that found on its current fleet of 80 Airbus A380s.
Emirates, which began flights to Australia 20 years ago this month, with a mere four flights a week between Melbourne and Dubai, now flies 105 a week to its global hub as well as to New Zealand, most recently in conjunction with its alliance and code sharing partner Qantas.
There have been hints for some time that Emirates has more surprises for the airline game up its sleeve, and Mr Mueller will clearly play a role in this, and might even be seen, at age 54 to be a potential successor to 66 year old Emirates President and CEO Tim Clark.
An interesting take on Mr Mueller’s appointment, and his decision to exit his contract with Malaysia Airlines early, this September, can be read here at the Boarding Area site.
There is one other matter to keep in mind. Sir Tim Clark has been a thoughtful critic of the official narratives about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 for almost as long as it has been since the Boeing 777 vanished over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8, 2016 with 239 people on board.
It is reasonable to assume that Mr Mueller knows things about that shameful event (and the dismissive responses of the airline and authorities on the night of its disappearance) that he cannot yet share with the wider world, and might never be able to disclose.