Picture by Charles Platiau @ Reuters.

Picture by Charles Platiau @ Reuters.

The CEO of Air France-KLM, Alexandre de Juniac has announced that he is stepping down from the airline to become the CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It was announced on Tuesday April 5th. No replacement has been found so far and the airline have said that they are hiring “Head-hunters’ to find the perfect CEO for the airline.

A spokeswoman for Air France-KLM said: “There are no names lined up so far. There will be a process to identify the best person to take over the direction of Air France-KLM”. Alexandre’s resignation from the airline to replace Tony Tyler, the IATA Director General who retires in June, was not expected by many analysts as de Juniac was given a “fresh 4-year mandate” by the airline’s shareholders in May of 2015. 

There will be a lot of speculation into the appointment of the new CEO due to the political sensitivities within the airline. The French Socialist Government currently owns 17.6% of the Air France-KLM Brand. There has been much backlash to the government after recent unrest over job cuts. 

There has been early speculation into who will replace the previous CEO. Such names like Frederic Gagey, who is the boss of Air France-KLM’s French Operations has cropped up as a potential candidate as well as Guillaume Pepy, who is the head of the railways within the group. 

Alexandre de Juniac joined Air France in 2011 from the French Treasury as he was the top aide to the then finance minister and future IMF Head Christine Lagarde. He was set the task of restructuring the company, which triggered conflicts between the airline and the trade unions over job cuts, pay conditions etc. 

His appointment into IATA will put him in a position as the airline industry’s chief diplomat and will be set the task of calming the tension between western and Gulf carriers while lobbying governments to reduce regulation over the industry. This appointment will be an interesting one as de Juniac has been a “vocal critic of Gulf airlines that have been steadily increasing their market share at the expense of European and other carriers” according to many airline industry experts. 

The appointment of de Juniac is to take place in the IATA’s annual meeting in Dublin in June. IATA represents 260 carriers as well as 80% of the world airline’s industry.

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