UPDATE 1-Air France-KLM says Juniac to replace Spinetta as CEO

Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:40am EDT

* Spinetta and van Wijk to step down on July 1

* Alexandre de Juniac to become new CEO of Air France-KLM

* Frederic Gagey to become Air France CEO (Adds detail, executive comment)

PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) - Air France-KLM Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta will hand over the reins of the Franco-Dutch carrier to Air France division head Alexandre de Juniac on July 1, the carrier said on Monday.

Previously private secretary to former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Juniac became Chairman and CEO of Air France in 2011. He will be replaced in that role by Air France Chief Financial Officer Frederic Gagey.

Juniac led the restructuring of Air France, including the announcement of some 5,000 job cuts to help reduce costs.

Vice Chairman and Deputy CEO Leo van Wijk will also step down, to be replaced by KLM CEO Peter Hartman, Air France-KLM said in a statement.

Spinetta and van Wijk said their decision to leave before their mandates expire follows progress in the airline's recovery that has included cutting costs, reducing debt and signing new labour agreements.

"We believe the timing is right for the new management team to take over," the departing executives said in the company's statement.

Air France-KLM said last month that it was sticking to targets to return to profit and cut debt by 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) by the end of next year after it trimmed its full-year operating loss in 2012.

Spinetta and van Wijk, who masterminded the 2004 merger of French and Dutch carriers Air France and KLM, were recalled to lead the airline and reverse losses in October 2011 as Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, CEO of the group since January 2009, was ousted.

Spinetta, who had led the carrier until 2009, would have had to step down by the company's annual shareholder meeting in the spring of 2014, when he would have reached 70, the company's mandatory retirement age.

($1 = 0.7694 euros) (Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Jane Merriman)