MONTREAL — Air Canada’s chief operating officer Ben Smith has been named the new CEO of Air France-KLM.
The longtime No. 2 at Air Canada will be the first non-French national to helm the Franco-Dutch airline.
Smith will replace former Air France CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac, who quit more than three months ago when staff turned down his offer of a pay deal aimed at halting a wave of strikes.
Smith, who has acted as chief negotiator during labour talks for Air Canada’s low-cost Rouge unit, will come on board amidst growing labour turmoil on the tarmac in Europe.
Pilots at Air France, Brussels Airlines and Ryanair have all staged work stoppages in recent months.
Smith was placed in the pilot’s seat at a board meeting Thursday.
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