Air France-KLM appoints Air Canada’s Benjamin Smith as CEO

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Aug 21, 2018: Air France-KLM has appointed Air Canada’s president Airlines and chief operating officer as the new chief executive officer. This decision was taken at a recent Board of Directors meeting held August 16, 2018.

Benjamin Smith will take up his duties at Air France-KLM at the latest on September 30, 2018.

He has played a major role at Air Canada over the past two decades, where he has been a key player in the airline’s economic and commercial development, its transformation, its value creation and the engagement of the teams.

In the meantime, the interim governance structure established on May 15, 2018 will remain in place. Anne-Marie Couderc, non-executive chairman of the Air France-KLM and Air France Boards, and the Management Committee consisting of three members, will continue to perform their duties until then.

In his new role, Benjamin Smith will take over executive management of the Air-France-KLM Group and will establish its organisational structure. He will be in charge as a priority to revitalise Air France, to give a new strategic impulse to the Group and to work on a new leadership approach with all Air France-KLM’s teams.

The Board has decided that Smith will be appointed as soon as possible as director of Air France-KLM, with the full support of the French State.

The Board will announce as quickly as possible an updated Group’s governance structure as regards to the roles and missions of the non-executive chairmanship of Air France-KLM and Air France.

On joining his new role, Benjamin Smith said: “I am very enthusiastic about this new opportunity. Air France and KLM are both airlines well known for the professionalism and commitment of their teams. I am well aware of the competitive challenges the Air France-KLM Group is currently facing and I am convinced that the airlines’ teams have all the strengths to succeed in the global airline market. I am confident in the Group’s capacity to become one of the world’s leading players. I look forward to earning the trust and respect of all teams, working together to win in this highly competitive and fast-changing customer service industry. I am approaching this new challenge with my passion for the aviation sector and with my deep willingness to listen to all stakeholders so we can work together and win. I have spent my entire career in this industry and I am convinced that the teams of the Air France-KLM Group are its strongest assets for its future success.”

Soon after the appointment of Smith at Air France-KLM, news reports suggest that unions at Air France-KLM have voiced their concern over the appointment of hiring a Canadian CEO.

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