Business Person of the Month

October 2010: Christoph Mueller, CEO, Aer Lingus

By Business & Finance
02 November 2010
Christoph Mueller

The German CEO has steered Aer Lingus through an extremely turbulent two years, bringing in changes to give it a viable future.


Aer Lingus has been through a very difficult period in the aviation industry, with demand in Ireland falling and the airline industry in crisis. Christoph Mueller has been the airline’s CEO since September 2009, and has been key in introducing changes in Aer Lingus’ operations that could give the airline a viable future in an uncertain climate.

Mueller has presided over Aer Lingus moving away from the low-cost airline model favoured by his predecessors, saying that neither customer nor staff ever fully bought into the model.

Aviation demand

In a speech recently, Mueller stressed that Ireland is Aer Lingus’ core market and that long-haul flights play a key part in the business moving forward. He questioned the viability of a short-haul strategy for an Irish airline in the current economic climate.

Mueller went on to say that demand for aviation travel in Ireland will not reach   pre-crisis levels any time soon, if ever. It is in this business environment that Mueller went about radically overhauling Aer Lingus’ cost base to ensure the airline has a future.


Mueller announced a €7m cost-cutting programme after just one month as CEO, in October 2009. The plan, known as Greenfield, was initially agreed upon by cabin crew members. However, the implementation of new rosters by management caused an industrial dispute to break out last month, with cabin crew voting for industrial action, claiming that the rosters went beyond what was agreed in the Greenfield plan. Crucially for Aer Lingus and Mueller, the cabin crew’s union Impact assured passengers there would be no strike action or disruption to passengers.

Terminal 2

Aer Lingus has announced that it will transfer its Dublin Airport operation to Terminal 2 with a view to the group commencing operations in the new terminal in November 2010. The stated reason for this move is that the new terminal will allow passengers to benefit from US custom controls that will be available in T2. This will allow departing passengers to the US to fully clear US immigration, customs and agriculture controls.

Dublin and Shannon airports are the only locations outside the North American continent to offer such facilities. This will increase the attractiveness of Ireland as a transfer point between Europe and the US, according to Aer Lingus.

Aviation experience

Mueller has extensive experience within the aviation industry, having held senior positions in Daimler Benz Aerospace, Lufthansa AG, the Sabena Group, DHL and Deutsche Post AG, prior to his roles at TUI Travel plc.

He served as the chief financial officer of DHL Worldwide from 2002 to 2004 and became a member of the executive committee of Deutsche Post AG in 2004.

In January 2006, Mueller joined the executive committee of TUI AG with responsibility for its flight division. In 2007, TUI AG merged its travel division with First Choice Holidays plc to form TUI Travel plc, a leading international travel group listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 100.

Mueller was executive director of aviation at TUI Travel plc from 2007 to 2009, during which time he also served as president of the Brussels-based International Air Carrier Association.

Aer Lingus

  • Sept 2009: Mueller took over as CEO.
  • Oct 2009: Aer Lingus announced €7m  cost-cutting plan, Greenfield.
  • Next month, the airline will move its Dublin operations to the new Terminal 2.


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Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been awarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.