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Etihad-Owned Air Berlin Names New CEO In Push For Return To Profit

Etihad-Owned Air Berlin Names New CEO In Push For Return To Profit

CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer will be replaced by Stefan Pichler on February 1, 2015.

German airline Air Berlin has named a new chief executive to take over a restructuring programme as it tries to return to profit.

Air Berlin, Germany’s second-largest airline and 29 per cent-owned by Abu-Dhabi based Etihad, said on Monday Chief Executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer was standing down at his own request and will be replaced by Stefan Pichler on February 1, 2015.

The airline, which has made an annual net profit only once in the last six years, is cutting over 10 per cent of its workforce, has scrapped plane orders, and has shaken up its route network as it bids to turn a profit.

Pichler knows the travel industry well, having previously held the position of CEO at German tour operator Thomas Cook AG and managerial roles at Lufthansa and Virgin Blue Airlines.

The 57 year-old is CEO of Fiji Airways and has implemented a restructuring plan there that enabled the island nation’s national carrier to report a record operating profit of $17.2 million in the first half of 2014.

“I am sure he will have an immediate positive impact,” Air Berlin chairman Hans-Joachim Koerber said in a statement.

Fiji Airways signed an agreement in April with Etihad that allows reciprocal ticket sales on certain routes. An Air Berlin spokesman said the decision to appoint Pichler had nothing to do with Etihad.

Etihad, which has been building up its network by taking minority stakes in airlines, is under an investigation by German authorities, looking to see whether it exercises too much control over Air Berlin.

The airline said Prock-Schauer would continue to serve as member of the management board at Air Berlin but in the function of Chief Strategy and Planning Officer.

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