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Outgoing Malaysia Airlines chief explains Ryanair move

Outgoing Malaysia Airlines chief executive Peter Bellew has released a statement to the media, explaining his unexpected departure from the airline to take up the role of chief operating officer at Ryanair.

"Love for my 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," he says.

"It is a form of national service. When I was asked on 27 September would I go to Ryanair, I said no. But a week later the call came and in life we can really never say never."

Malaysia Airlines had described Bellew's resignation as "unexpected", following Ryanair's announcement on 17 October of his appointment. The Kuala Lumpur-based carrier stated that Bellew has "expressed his commitment to Malaysia Airlines" during a press conference on 27 September.

Bellew was Ryanair's flight operations director before joining Malaysia Airlines two years ago, and subsequently promoted to CEO after Christoph Mueller's departure.

In his statement, Bellew also pointed out that "there has been no interference" from Khazanah Nasional, and that the state investment firm has been "incredibly supportive" during his tenure.

"I cannot thank them enough for accelerating our transformation," he says. "People always ask me how do I cope with government interference. There has been none for me. Zero interference."

Bellew adds that Malaysia Airlines is close to making a turnaround, with a need for "just another 4 to 5% in monthly revenue" before it returns to profits. He discloses that the airline's revenue increased by 7% in the second quarter of the current financial year.

The Irish will join Ryanair on 1 December, and Malaysia Airlines has said that its board will meet and make an announcement in due course.

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