On Thursday, nine Air France unions opposed the likely designation of Canadian Benjamin Smith at the helm of Air France-KLM; they find it “inconceivable” to appoint a foreign leader as CEO.
In a press release that was issued this morning, the unions – already conducting fifteen days of strike since February for better wages – state that it is inconceivable that Air France (French since 1933) falls into the hands of a foreign leader whose candidature has allegedly been pushed by a competing industrial group (read: Delta Air Lines).
Delta Air Lines, an American company, currently owns 8.8% of Air France-KLM. The French State is the largest shareholder with 14.3%.
“The successor of Jean-Marc Janaillac, the CEO that resigned in May after a majority of Air France staff voted “no” in the consultation on the pay agreement proposed on 16 April, must protect the interests of our national company and must have a good knowledge of the French social model“, the group of unions announced, adding that the airline is in need of more transparency after “8 months of wandering without dialogue and without leadership“.
The appointment of Ben Smith, Air Canada’s COO and number two, is expected this afternoon just after the Air France-KLM board of directors meeting. “It seems that the fate of Air France must be sealed very discretely (in French: en catimini) during an extraordinary board meeting, and … via conference call,” the unions added.
The unions will meet again on 27 August to “determine the actions they will take to finally get the wage increase they are demanding since the start of this year.”