The Dutch are not satisfied: new boss brings Air France and KLM closer together


CEO Benjamin Smith moves Air France KLM. He has brought the Dutch KLM boss Pieter Elbers online. His compatriots fear the consequences.

Despite the economic success of his airline company, Pieter Pieter Pieter had to worry about his work last week. Because the new CEO of Air France KLM, Benjamin Smith, wants to connect the well-behaved Dutch airline more closely with the sick French sister with problems, Elbers did not like it. On Tuesday (February 19) it was clear: the contract of the KLM boss was nevertheless extended.

The reason for this was hardly that KLM managers and even politicians campaigned for Elbers, but that the Dutch were in charge. The decision was taken Friday in the KLM board, La Tribune reported, "when the Dutch boss agreed with the Benjamin Smith plan," said the French newspaper. "The boss of KLM understood that he had no choice but to save his head."

Smith nominated at KLM

The result: Air France KLM gets a new chief committee, which is responsible for the strategic direction of all airlines and business units. The presidency is held by Benjamin Smith. Also represented are KLM boss Pieter Elbers, Air France boss Anne Rigail and Group CFO Frederic Gagey. The aim of the committee is to expand cooperation within the Group and make better use of synergies, according to Air France KLM.

Elbers and Rigail will both be the deputies of Smith as Group CEO. But the most explosive thing is: with Smith, for the first time in the history of Air France KLM, a chairman is proposed as a member of the Supervisory Board of KLM. The election will take place in April 2019 at the annual general meeting of KLM. "KLM pays a high price for the reappointment of chef Pieter Elbers", says De Telegraaf. The check would take place in the future from Paris and KLM would have to "tolerate" Smith on the board.

Jobs at KLM in danger?

Aviation consultant Ruud Jansen sees the situation even more drastically: "All control goes to Paris and that, of course, costs jobs", the Dutchman told the newspaper. "I suggest using a black swan for KLM ads."

Why the Dutch are so skeptical about Air France, also show the recently published annual figures of the Group for the past year. While at KLM the operating profit for 2018 only decreased by at least 6 million euros compared to the previous year to just 1.07 billion euros, it also dropped by 597 million to just 266 million as a result of the strike.

New boss removes Joon

Smith has been responsible for Air France KLM since the autumn of 2018, but has already made some changes. Air France, for example, stamps its young brand Joon. The regional Hop brand will hide the French in the future – she was too confused with Smith.