Thursday, 16 August 2018

Benjamin Smith resigns from Air Canada to become ceo of Air France-KLM

Earlier today, Air Canada announced that Benjamin Smith, President, Airlines and Chief Operating Officer, has told the carrier he will resign his position to take effect at the end of this month.

Air Canada say that Ben is to accept a role as the chief executive officer at a 'European-based global airline', although it stopped short of naming it.  "We wish Ben well in his future endeavours and congratulate him on his appointment. On behalf of our Board of Directors, our executive team and our 30,000 employees, I thank Ben for his significant contributions in many various roles at Air Canada over the past two decades," said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.   

That European airline, which Air Canada didn't name is Air France-KLM, and Mr Smiths appointment has been welcomed by the French Government. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, “We’ve always said we wanted a leader for Air France with a deep knowledge of aviation,” adding that the Air Canada veteran “meets all the conditions set by the state as a shareholder”. The French government hold a 14 percent stake in the company.

Yet, whilst the French state might be happy with Smith's placement, representatives of Air Frances' workforce who have openly criticised his appointment. In a statement issued by nine major unions representing pilots, cabin crew and ground staff, they said “The choice of candidate should further the defence of our national airline’s interests,” and that it was “inconceivable” that a foreign national should be appointed CEO. There is also much consternation regarding Smiths rumoured 3.3 million-euro salary - a 300 percent increase on the previous CEO's wages.