Aer Arann start search for new MD

Garry Cullen pictured with Padraig O Ceidigh last year.

Garry Cullen pictured with Padraig O Ceidigh last year.

West of Ireland-based airline Aer Arann has begun its search for a new managing director to succeed Garry Cullen who is to retire later this year after fulfilling a two-year-contract.

The airline wants his successor in place at the end of October in order to ensure a smooth transition in what the firm has admitted will - in common with all airlines - be a difficult year.

Since 2006, Aer Arann has restructured the organisation with the introduction of new aircraft into the fleet, while growing the network and customer base.

The news of Mr Cullen’s retirement comes almost exactly two years after Mr Cullen took the role in June 2006.

It will see the 64-year-old stay on six months beyond his original two-year contract.

In a statement yesterday, Aer Arann's board said they wanted to have his successor in place by October "to ensure a smooth transition, continuing the implementation of the company's successful growth and development strategy".

A one-time Aer Lingus chief executive, Mr Cullen was brought into the airline at a time of rapid expansion as owner Padraig O Ceidigh took a step back to become executive chairman.

Mr Cullen is a former group chief executive of Aer Lingus, and also previously held a number of other senior positions at the national airline.

He resigned from Aer Lingus in February 2000 and was appointed CEO of LIAT, the Eastern Caribbean regional carrier based in Antigua, in April 2000.

Sources this week have stressed that there was a lot of interest in the job when Mr Cullen was appointed back in 2006, suggesting interest will be just as high this time around.

The airline has also opened a new head office in Dublin, and a new hangar facility in Galway.

However, it has put some of its expansion plans on hold this year in what it describes as challenging times.

"We had planned to have a beauty parade with the different aircraft manufacturers this year with a view to picking aircraft for 2010, but we are now delaying that process for 12 months," said Mr Cullen last month.

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