Air France-KLM’s Next CEO Comes From Air Canada?

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Parisian press was reporting on later Tuesday night that the French-Dutch group’s selection committee would have selected Ben Smith from Air Canada to lead Air France-KLM after the previous CEO resigned back in May.

Ben Smith

The board hasn’t made the decision yet that is scheduled to be announced after the French summer holidays end on August 22nd.

Here’s an excerpt from La Tribune (access their piece here):

The nomination committee of the board of directors of Air France-KLM has, according to the newspaper, extended its research to international profiles at the insistence of the American Delta and Chinese China Eastern, which are among its shareholders. ” A taboo so far for the group ” which favored French leaders, notes the evening newspaper.

And here’s from BNN Bloomberg (access their piece here):

French newspaper Le Monde reported earlier that Air France-KLM’s nomination committee had chosen Smith, citing unidentified sources, including at SNPL. The final decision will be made by the board, which according to the newspaper hasn’t met to review Smith’s application. The company will also have a non-executive chairman, Le Monde said.

Air France-KLM has been looking for a new CEO since previous boss Jean-Marc Janaillac resigned in May, in response to rejection of a pay proposal by employees at the company’s French arm. The plan was designed to end a bitter social conflict with unions at Air France, who are demanding a pay rise. They staged 15 days of strikes since the beginning of the year, which have cost the company 335 million euros (US$339 million).


Not sure if Ben Smith is “French” enough for the Air France’s unions that have made the airline mostly ungovernable and the tenures of the most recent CEOs rather short. Not sure why anyone would willingly take this position regardless of the pay package?

The pilot unions were already voicing their displeasure against this possible choice. I guess that only native speaking French is good enough in their opinion, although they have all failed. Perhaps it is time to have a fresh approach and reset.

Difficult to see how any CEO, regardless where he or she comes from, can succeed unless the unions are more reasonable in their demands.

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