- European airline needed to fill post left by de Juniac's exit
- Janaillac will take top job at Air France starting July 31
Air France-KLM Group’s board of directors selected veteran transportation manager Jean-Marc Janaillac as chief executive officer and chairman of Europe’s largest airline, filling a hole left after Alexandre de Juniac announced his surprise departure.
Janaillac, 63, will need to face down unions in one of Europe’s most bitter labor disputes. After announcing his departure three weeks ago, de Juniac said the company is trailing badly in a race with more powerful rivals and said a 10-day pilot walkout in 2014 had been “a frontal attack” on the company. He will step down on July 31. Air France’s shares rose 1.2 percent to 7.92 euros at 9:19 a.m. in Paris.
Janaillac has a broad background in the French transport sector. Since 2012, he has served as chairman and CEO of Transdev, which operates rail and bus lines in 18 countries and is jointly owned by Veolia and France’s Caisse des Depots. He previously ran RATP, a state-owned public transport operator that runs most of the buses, subways and trams in Paris and its surrounding region, the airline said in a statement late Sunday. In the 1990s, he was chief operating officer of French airline AOM.
The French government owns a 15.9 percent holding in Air France-KLM and has preferred appointees with a background in the higher echelons of public service. De Juniac was chief of staff to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde when she was French finance minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. De Juniac is leaving to lead the world’s biggest airline trade group, the International Air Transport Association.