Irish airline and takeover target Aer Lingus said Monday it has appointed chief strategy and planning officer Stephen Kavanagh as chief executive.
The Dublin-based carrier, which is being pursued for a takeover by British Airways owner IAG, announced in a statement that Kavanagh will replace Christoph Mueller, who is due to take the top job at Malaysia Airlines.
Mueller steps down on February 28 and Kavanagh -- who has 26 years' service with the airline -- will pick up the reins from March 1.
Kavanagh's promotion was announced as International Airlines Group (IAG) presses ahead with drumming up support for its £1-billion ($1.54-billion, 1.35-billion-euro) takeover bid for Aer Lingus.
"Stephen has worked in Aer Lingus for over 26 years in a range of increasingly challenging roles and he has a commanding knowledge of both the company and the industry," said chairman Colm Barrington.
"I am particularly pleased that it has been possible and appropriate for an internal Aer Lingus executive to succeed to the position of CEO.
"Stephen has been a key member of the executive team that, over the last 5 years, has transformed Aer Lingus into a strong, profitable airline with a resilient business model and an improved cost base."
Aer Lingus announced on January 27 that its management was willing to recommend IAG's takeover proposal -- worth 2.55 euros per share -- subject to certain conditions.
Whether the deal goes ahead now hinges on major shareholders Ryanair and the Irish government.
And on Friday, Aer Lingus repeated its support for the bid.
"The strong view of the board of Aer Lingus is that the prospect of Aer Lingus being part of the IAG Group has a compelling commercial logic for Aer Lingus, has significantly positive benefits for Ireland and is strongly supportive of the Irish government's two airline policy," Barrington said late last week.
He added that a deal with IAG would increase the opportunities for growth for the airline, the Irish tourism sector and business in general in Ireland.