Stefan Pichler previously served as the CEO of airberlin group from February 2015 on. With the help of the strategic shareholder Etihad Airways, he developed a strategic restructuring plan which resulted in dividing the group into 3 separate business units: the first unit provided a long term wetlease deal with Lufthansa for 40 aircraft; the second unit, the touristic business including the Austrian daughter company NIKI, was sold to Etihad – and the third unit the remaining airberlin was redesigned as a network airline with hubs in Duesseldorf and Berlin. All those deals were concluded in December 2016 and enabled a new start for airberlin which had lost over 3 billion Euros in the last 10 years.
Before, Stefan Pichler was leading Fiji Airways as Managing Director and CEO from September 2013 on. He was accountable to drive the rebranding of the airline and the business turnaround as a basis for future profitable growth. In the 2014, Fiji Airways announced record was profits of 60.5m AUD, up from a loss in the previous year. Stefan also served as the Chairman of Tourism Fiji until December 2015.
From June 2009 until August 2013, Stefan was CEO of Jazeera Airways K.S.C., a public listed airline on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. He launched a successful turnaround program in the same year and since July 2010 the company has returned to sustainable profitability with 10 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. Stefan is responsible of the future growth strategy and regional expansion of one of the few profitable regional airline groups. He just was awarded the “Personal Achievement of the Year Award 2012” by Business Aviation for the Jazeera Airways turnaround.
Since 2004, Stefan 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. Stefan 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 Stefan 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, Stefan 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.
Stefan 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.
He has also become a respected international tourism leader as he chaired the German Tourism Body BTW as well as being in the Board of the Australian Tourism Body TTF, the Executive Committee of World Trade and Tourism Council (WTTC). He also chaired the Tourism Group at the World Economic Forum and was the Chairman of Fiji Tourism.
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 TTF in Australia.
A former internationally ranked marathon runner, Stefan started his career as the Head of Sport Promotions at NIKE International in Beaverton/Oregon. He has a Master Degree in both Economics and Law from Augsburg University.