Air France CEO steps downs as group chief talks of ‘new approach’

Air France CEO Franck Terner resigned Sept. 27, leaving the new Air France-KLM Group CEO running both companies.

Ben Smith, a former Air Canada executive who became Air France-KLM Group CEO Sept. 17, will also head Air France, but until no later than Dec. 31, the company said.

While Terner’s departure under new management was not a complete industry surprise, the suddenness of it means more turmoil for an airline that is locked in a long-running dispute with its unions over salaries, a dispute that led to the resignation of the group’s former CEO in May.

With Terner’s departure, Anne-Marie Couderc, chair of the Air France-KLM and Air France boards of directors, said Smith’s priority will be “to define Air France’s short- and medium-term strategic vision, find a solution to salary issues and set up a new company governance structure.»

Smith added a statement, saying, «Air France, part of the Air France-KLM Group, has everything it needs to become one of the world leaders in the sector again. I am well aware of company employees’ expectations, including salary issues. I wish to offer a new approach.”..

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