Gourgeon Steps Down as Air France-KLM CEO

 - October 17, 2011, 4:14 PM
Pierre-Henri Gourgeon

Pierre-Henri Gourgeon resigned as CEO of Air France and Air France-KLM on October 17 as part of a management shakeup that saw chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta assume Gourgeon’s duties as CEO of Air France-KLM and Alexandre de Juniac take over as chairman and chief executive of Air France.

The moves came despite the long-held expectation that Spinetta would resign as Air France-KLM’s chairman to make way for Gourgeon. Rather, Spinetta and Leo Van Wijk, who presided over the establishment of the Air France-KLM group, take charge of the strategic coordination of a fully dedicated Air France-KLM holding company, now scheduled for implementation in 2013 rather than the beginning of next year.

“The aim is to improve the group’s operating and financial performance in a context of economic uncertainties affecting the European air traffic, as well as the position of Air France in respect of increased competition from new entrants,” said Air France-KLM in a statement. “In the current economic context, top priority must be given to the recovery and improvement of the performance of Air France and of KLM, which must call up all reflection and energy in order to better address these challenges.”

Air France-KLM has suffered losses during two of the last three years under Gourgeon’s leadership. The company consistently turned profits during the prior decade under the leadership of Spinetta, who become Air France chairman and CEO in 1997 and ran Air France-KLM as chief executive from 2004 to 2009. Spinetta has served as chairman of the group to this day.