Air Canada exec to become new CEO of Air France-KLM

Air Canada chief operating officer Ben smith will leave the company to become the chief executive at Air France-KLM.

Air Canada confirmed that Smith will resign his position with the company effective August 31. Air Canada said Smith was leaving to become CEO at a “European-based global airline.”

“We wish Ben well in his future endeavours and congratulate him on his appointment,” Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu said in a release.

Smith began working for Air Canada in 2002, joined the ranks of its executive management in 2007, and became COO in 2014.

Air France-KLM’s board of directors said Smith will take over his new role by Sept. 30.

“I am well aware of the competitive challenges the Air France-KLM Group is currently facing and I am convinced that the airlines’ teams have all the strengths to succeed in the global airline market,” Smith said in a release.

He is replacing Jean-Marc Janaillac, who quit as CEO of Air France-KLM in May after staff rejected his offer of a pay deal aimed at stopping a wave of strikes.

Smith could face a rough reception from the company’s employees. Unions representing pilots and ground staff both offered critical comments earlier this week before Smith’s appointment was confirmed.

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