Peter Bellew is set to return to Ryanair as COO following the departure of Michael Hickey. Bellew is currently CEO of Malaysia Airlines, which said in a statement that the announcement was ‘unexpected’.

Ryanair said on October 17 that Bellew would return to take over responsibility of the carrier’s flight and ground operations, as well as engineering, but with a specific focus on “pilot production, training and career development”. The appointment is designed to “ensure that the pilot rostering failure… will never be repeated”.

Bellew will start his new position on December 1. He is the third CEO to leave Malaysia Airlines in as many years. The carrier issued a statement following Ryanair’s announcement, pointing out that Bellew had been asked whether he would return to his former employer at a press conference on September 27, to which he stated he was happy to be with Malaysia and that the turnaround of the airline was “the greatest achievement of my life”.

Malaysia Airlines’ board of directors acted quickly to replace Bellew, announcing the appointment of former pilot and COO Izham Ismail as the group’s new CEO. Ismail will take over on December 1 and will be aided by a board executive committee for the first six months of his new role.

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