Thursday 24 October 2019

Rutter departure sparks reshuffle at Aer Lingus

Controversial COO moves on after driving cost cuts, writes Fearghal O'Connor

Mike Rutter. Photo: David Conachy
Mike Rutter. Photo: David Conachy

Fearghal O'Connor

The departure of Aer Lingus's chief operating officer, Mike Rutter, has sparked a management reshuffle at the IAG-owned former national flag carrier.

Earlier this month, when contacted by the Sunday Independent to confirm Rutter's departure, the airline responded by saying that he had "not left Aer Lingus but he is currently on annual leave" but declined to confirm whether or not he would return after his holidays.

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However, Aer Lingus later issued an internal statement to staff confirming the move.

"Aer Lingus chief operating officer Mike Rutter has informed me of his intention to step down from his position as COO and board director," said chief executive Sean Doyle in the statement.

In a second internal statement, the CEO said that in the wake of Rutter's departure he was announcing "a number of changes to the executive and broader organisation" and was splitting Rutter's former role into two new functions - chief commercial officer and chief operations officer.

The current director of digital ventures at parent company IAG's cargo division, David Shepherd, has been appointed as chief commercial officer. Long-time Aer Lingus executive Peter O'Neill has been appointed interim chief operations officer, taking responsibility for flight operations, inflight services, crew resourcing, ground operations and catering.

Employee relations and change director Sean Murphy is to assume interim responsibility for guest services, ramp and cabin appearance functions at Dublin Airport.

Rutter was at times a controversial figure at the carrier. Last year an internal memo issued by Rutter outraged staff after its contents were reported by the Sunday Independent. In it he claimed that law enforcement had been brought into the airline because "guest property and company stock losses remain at levels significantly above the industry norms".

Aer Lingus subsequently issued an apology to staff for the hurt the memo had caused and agreed to pay €25,000 to charity as a gesture.

Doyle's internal statement said that the former Flybe, G4S and American Express executive had been "instrumental in the execution of our ambition to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic, helping Aer Lingus become a more sustainable and investable business."

He praised Rutter's role in the airline's revenue performance from €1bn to more than €2bn in four years and highlighted Rutter's role in achieving strong cost reductions at the airline.

Sunday Indo Business

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