Thursday 11 July 2019 1:38 pm

Ryanair's chief operating officer to step down after 18 months in role

Ryanair’s chief operations officer Peter Bellew is to step down after just 18 months in the role, in which he has overseen the airline’s fraught relationship with staff.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said in an internal memo to staff that Bellew, who quit the top job at Malaysia Airlines to return to Ryanair in December 2017, would stand down this December.

Read more: Airline and travel stocks take a hit following Ryanair profit drop

“Peter returned to Ryanair in December 2017 during the immediate aftermath of the rostering failure, and he has done great work over the last 18 months to improve our operations management and on-time performance, despite the difficulties posed by record ATC [air traffic control] delays in the summer 2018 and again this summer,” O’Leary said.

Shares were down two per cent at the time of writing.

Bellew was appointed after Ryanair struggled with the rostering of its pilots, which led to the cancellation of about 20,000 flights in 2017.

He has also overseen a push from staff members to unionise, which prompted a number of strikes by cabin crew last year over pay and working conditions.

O’Leary said the airline would recruit a successor to Bellew over the next few months.

Ryanair is also recruiting for a new chief executive following a company reshuffle, in which O’Leary will step down as the CEO of the airline itself as it moves to a group structure similar to that of rival IAG.

A small management team will oversea Ryanair, Austria-based Laudamotion, Poland-based Ryanair Sun and Ryanair UK.

Read more: Ryanair shares drop as profits suffer 30 per cent hit on falling ticket prices

O’Leary will be the chief executive of Ryanair Holdings until 2024. The recruitment process for O’Leary’s replacement in the airline division is underway.

Ryanair issued a profit warning in May after it reported a 29 per cent drop in profits to €1.02bn (£890m), blaming a fall in fares.