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Air France chief heads for clearer air

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 - 01:34

Air France-KLM shares have fallen 7 percent after the CEO announced his departure. As David Pollard reports, Alexandre de Juniac piloted the airline through some turbulent times, though more heavy weather could still lie ahead.

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It's usually up to somebody else to sing your praises when you leave a job. On this occasion, Alexandre de Juniac did it himself. Air France-KLM is back in the black, has paid down some of its debt - and made progress in negotiations with staff, he says. So why is its boss triggering the emergency chute now - leaving with three years left of his current mandate? SOUNDBITE: (English) OLAF STORBECK, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: "He has been in charge for three years, he has fought many battles, he has seen one of the longest strikes in the overall history of Air France in 2014...So I'm speculating, but I could imagine he's just tired of fighting all these battles." And at 645,000 euros a year, his pay was a fraction of what other industry chiefs earn, despite that industry facing huge pressures. For Air-France, of course, it was its pilots - the 2014 strike cost it 425 million euros. A French government stake in his company and strong unions apart, there were the other challenges of a low-cost environment. SOUNDBITE: (English) OLAF STORBECK, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: "IAG and British Airways shows that you can turn around a European legacy carrier...But for now neither Lufthansa nor Air France-KLM have found a lasting answer to these competitive pressures. They are trying to grow low-cost units by themselves - the jury is still out if this is going to work." De Juniac now becomes head of the airline trade body, IATA. His critics say it's a high-profile, high-pay appointment he sees as more attractive. But adding that after a difficult period at Air France, it's not hard to see why.

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Air France chief heads for clearer air

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 - 01:34