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Follow-up to the Air France-KLM series

After dismissing Philippe Capron - and, apparently, Catherine Guillouard - Air France-KLM had given itself until the end of the month to find a new CEO.

Although no new names were mentioned this week to take over the management of the group, former or current union leaders of Air France and KLM are asking the State to stop interfering in the appointment process. But the President of the Republic will still have the last word on the name of the future CEO of the company, in which the State still holds 14.3% of the capital.

Thus, French-Dutch group's management said they consulted Delta Air Lines and China Eastern Airlines "much more", while Air France's COMEX "voted" in favour of KLM CEO Pieter Elbers.

In addition, RATP's CEO Catherine Guillouard was reportedly definitively dismissed, at the request of the Ministry of Transport according to BFMTV. The Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, recently explained that "Air France-KLM is in a global competition" and that it needs "an air transport specialist who can take control of the company as quickly as possible".

The hypothesis of a Dutch CEO

The executive committee (Anne Brachet: engineering and maintenance, Jean Christophe Lalanne: intelligence technology, Frédéric Gagey: finance and Patrick Alexandre: sales and alliances) is defending the candidacy of Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM's management board. But just out, this scenario would have been denied by the Air France-KLM management who evoked "an unfounded rumour".

Other names have been mentioned: executives or former executives of subsidiaries, such as Nathalie Stubler (Transavia) or Lionel Guérin (Hop!), Marc Rochet, former CEO of Air Caraïbes, or Bruno Matheu, former Deputy Managing Director of Air France who left for the company Etihad between 2014 and 2017.

What about the structure of the new governance?

Three scenarios are possible:

  • a non-executive President, accompanied by an Executive Director General of Air France-KLM,
  • a CEO at the head of the group and President of Air France alongside a CEO for KLM,
  • a group CEO with a very international profile in charge of major alliances and global development, with two more operational bosses for Air France and KLM

On the other hand, the question of a sale of its shares by the State no longer appears to be on the agenda. Air France-KLM is not on the privatisable list.

And Matignon assures that any withdrawal by the State will only take place in a second phase, once the appointments at the head of the Air France-KLM group and its subsidiary Air France have been decided and the recovery initiated. And when the share price has returned to a level corresponding to its real value.

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