Fiji Airways is on the lookout for a new chief executive after Stefan Pichler’s decision to return to his native Germany to run AirBerlin.
The 56-year-old Pichler, who was appointed chief executive of Fiji Airways in September 2013, will take up his new position in charge of Germany’s second largest carrier from February 1 2015.
He will replace Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, who will step down as AirBerlin chief executive but resume his previous role as the airline’s chief strategy and planning officer.
Pichler, who will remain a director after stepping down as chief executive, said running Fiji Airways was “the most rewarding job in his career”.
“Our management team, each of our dear staff members and our loyal supporters in Fiji and abroad have been really unique and very special to me,” Pichler said in a statement.
“As a board member, I will help to make sure that Fiji Airways will become the best boutique airline in the world.”
Prior to joining Fiji Airways, Pichler worked at Jazeera Airways, Virgin Blue, V Australia and Thomas Cook AG.
He also previously worked as chief commercial officer at AirBerlin’s local rival Lufthansa.
AirBerlin chairman Hans-Joachim Körber said Pichler had an outstanding track record of senior leadership positions in successful airlines.
“I am sure he will have an immediate positive impact,” Dr Körber said in a statement.
Fiji Airways chairman Nalin Patel said the board would immediately begin the search for Pichler’s replacement.
Patel said the airline’s future was a bright one, with more flights, more aircraft and more destinations to come in the period ahead.
“Great progress has been made at Fiji Airways and the company is definitely on track for a successful future,” Patel said.
“The board will make sure that Fiji Airways will continue to deliver outstanding value to its customers, its staff and its shareholders.”
AirBerlin, which is a member of the oneworld alliance and 29 per cent owned by Etihad Airways, posted a 201.2 million euro loss in the six months to June 30, 2014, a slight improvement from the 234.3 million euro loss in the prior corresponding period.