The Chairman of Air Pacific Limited Trading as Fiji Airways, Mr. Nalin Patel, announced today that the Board has appointed Mr. Stefan Pichler as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer effective 1st September 2013.
Mr. Patel said that after an extensive global search the Board was delighted to have Mr. Pichler join the company on its road ahead: “Mr. Pichler is a proven Chief Executive with a strong track record in turning businesses around and growing them to new levels. He has extensive global experience, not only in all airline business models, but also in the tourism industry.”
Mr. Pichler is currently Chief Executive Officer of Jazeera Airways where he led the company in the last four years to a remarkable turnaround, achieving the highest operating profit margins in the industry in 2011 and 2012. He was recently awarded the “Personal Achievement of the Year Award 2012” by Business Aviation for the Jazeera Airways turnaround.
Before that, he was responsible for Virgin Blue’s transformation from a low cost carrier to a network airline and served as their Chief Commercial Officer. Mr. Pichler also launched Virgin Blue’s long haul carrier V Australia in 2008 and served as its Chairman. Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Cook AG, where Mr. Pichler built the company from a national German tour operator to the world’s second largest leisure group, he has also held Senior and Executive Board roles with Lufthansa AG.
Mr. Pichler commented on his appointment: “I am excited to join Fiji Airways on the road ahead to build a bright future, based on a strong brand and a dedicated team. Together, we will build a company which every Fijian can be proud of.”
“This a remarkable confluence of the right person in the right place at the right time. Mr. Pichler’s distinctive career experience and outstanding accomplishments established him as the best possible fit for CEO of Fiji Airways. We are confident that under his leadership Fiji Airways will continue to modernise, grow and prosper as we move forward into the future in this significant new chapter in the history of Fiji Airways, “ said Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Fiji’s Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation. “Mr. Pichler is taking charge as the momentum for progress is already in place—a solid partnership among all the staff of the airline, all interested in the same thing—the continued success of Fiji Airways.”
Mr. Patel assured Mr. Pichler of the full support of the Board and experienced management team and also thanked Mr. Swift for acting as the interim CEO until 31st August 2013.
Biography – Stefan Pichler
Stefan Pichler joined Jazeera Airways K.S.C., a public listed airline on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, in June 2009 as the CEO. He launched a successful turnaround program in the same year and since July 2010 the company has returned to sustainable profitability with 12 consecutive quarters of record profits until today. The company achieved the highest operating profit margins in the global industry with 25 % in 2011 and 30 % in 2012. Mr. Pichler was responsible for the turnaround and the of the future growth strategy of one of the few profitable and privately owned regional airline groups. He was awarded the “Personal Achievement of the Year Award 2012” by Business Aviation for the Jazeera Airways turnaround.
Since 2004, Mr. Pichler was part of Richard Branson’s senior management team. He was responsible for Virgin Blue’s transformation from a low cost carrier to a “new world” network airline and served as their Chief Commercial Officer. Virgin Blue became one of the most profitable global airlines in 2006 and 2007 with a double digit profit after tax margin. Mr. Pichler also launched Virgin Blue’ s long haul carrier V Australia in 2008 and served as a Chairman of this company until June 2009.
Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Cook AG, where Mr. Pichler built the company from a national German tour operator to the world’s second largest leisure group, he has also held Senior and Executive Board roles with Lufthansa AG. Joining Lufthansa in 1989 as the Marketing & Sales Manager for France, Mr. Pichler was appointed Managing Director of Lufthansa France in 1991. Additional roles included his appointments as Managing Director for Germany in 1995 and as the Executive Vice President of worldwide Sales & Marketing in 1996 and as a Member of Lufthansa’s Executive Board in 1997.
Mr. Pichler combines both extensive airline experience with major Network, Charter and Low Cost Carriers with extensive knowledge of global markets and costumers, including working with leading global brands such as NIKE, Lufthansa, Thomas Cook and Virgin. With his international business career and background he is certainly one of the very few global aviation and leisure experts and leaders.
He is formerly a non-executive director and Chairman of major corporations including, Steigenberger Hotels AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Berlin Messe GmbH and Fraport AG in Germany, Grupo Iberostar in Spain, Havas in France , Thomas Cook in UK and India and Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) Australia.
A former internationally ranked marathon runner, Mr. Pichler started his career as the Head of Sport Promotions at NIKE International in Beaverton/Oregon. He has a Masters Degree in both Economics and Law from Augsburg University, Germany.