The board of directors of Air France-KLM has selected Jean-Marc Janaillac to replace Alexandre de Juniac as the airline group’s chairman and chief executive officer. In doing so, the board approved a recommendation made by the company’s Nomination and Governance Committee. Janaillac currently leads the bus and train operator Transdev.
De Juniac has been the CEO of Air France-KLM since 2013. Officially, he is slated to leave the position at the end of July 2016 in order to become director and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline industry trade group. However, de Juniac has indicated to the Air France-KLM board that he will actually be joining IATA in time for the organization’s general meeting scheduled for early June.
Janaillac, 63, worked for Air France in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He later became associate director general of AOM French Airlines in the late 1990s. In 2012, he was named CEO of Transdev, where he has led the multimodal transportation company through a series of difficult negotiations with unions. This experience should serve Janaillac well during his time at Air France-KLM, as the airline group is in the midst of a difficult negotiation with its pilots union over cost-cutting measures designed to make the giant airline group more competitive with low-fare carriers such as Ryanair and rapidly growing network carriers such as Emirates.
De Juniac made the surprise announcement in April that he would leave Air France-KLM for IATA. Press reports have indicated that de Juniac, who has ties to former conservative French president Nicolas Sarkozy, enjoyed only modest support from France’s current Socialist government in regard to the ongoing efforts (which potentially involve job losses) to restructure the partially state-owned airline group. In the mid-1990s, de Juniac had served as deputy chief of staff to Sarkozy, who was then France’s budget minister. After Sarkozy became president of France, de Juniac worked in a senior position at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment from 2009 to 2011.
Incoming CEO Janaillac is widely viewed as having very good political connections to the current government. He studied at the prestigious Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) along with current French President Francois Hollande and Minister of Finance Michel Sapin. Another classmate was Segolene Royal, an influential member of the Socialist Party and currently the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The ENA is an elite graduate school that specializes in the education and training of students in preparation for entry into the senior ranks of the French civil service.
In late April, Thierry Antinori, Emirates executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said that he had been contacted by Air France-KLM about replacing de Juniac, but told the company that he was not interested.
Frederic Gagey will remain CEO of the airline group’s Air France division. Gagey had been mentioned in press reports as another possible replacement for de Juniac.
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