Aer Lingus has said its group chief financial officer Andrew Macfarlane is to step down from his position to take up a new role in the Middle East outside of the aviation industry. 

The company said it will now start a process to recruit a new chief financial office.

Mr Macfarlane will remain in his current rule for up to six months to facilitate the transition to a new CFO. 

He was appointed as interim CFO in December 2009 and as the group's CFO and an executive director in October  2010.

"While we are disappointed that Andrew has decided to step down, we understand his desire to seek a new challenge and wish him well in his new role," commented Christoph Mueller, the company's chief executive.