Air France, KLM, management, ceo, cfo, search, successor, open letter

Troubled search for a new Air France-KLM chief

There has been a backlash since rumours that the CFO of a water and waste management company was about to be nominated.

The process of finding a new chief executive for Air France-KLM is causing headaches for the airline group, ATW quotes the French media as reporting.

Rumours that Philippe Capron, the chief financial officer of the Paris water and waste management company Veolia, was about to be nominated have sparked a backlash.

Air France-KLM is said to have been in turmoil since a protracted labour dispute over pay at Air France evolved into a management crisis following the abrupt departure of former group chief Jean-Marc Janaillac last month.

Janaillac himself had held the post for less than two years and was only in the early stages of implementing a turnaround plan to help the group compete better with rivals. But he resigned after employees voted against his proposals.

Open letter
An interim management team has been in place since then, and a nomination committee has been finding it tough to locate a successor to Janaillac.

But just as an announcement was due on Capron, a group called TousAirFrance comprising employees, former union leaders and a former board member sent an open letter to the airline group stressing the need for “a person who really understands the airline industry and grasps the competitive reality Air France-KLM has to face.”

“An inappropriate decision by the nomination committee could have drastic consequences as we are at a crossroads of huge airline consolidation in which Air France-KLM seriously lags behind. In that case it will be far from sure that Air France-KLM does not become the next Sabena or Alitalia,” the letter warns.

France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, insists Capron is “one candidate among others”, his words during a televised debate on Sunday. “All shareholders should have their say,” he said, adding that an appointment would be made in the coming weeks.

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