Two French airline unions blasted Air France-KLM this week after reports the Franco-Dutch carrier will name an Air Canada executive as its new CEO.
Several French news outlets have reported Air Canada chief operating officer Ben Smith is poised to be placed in the pilot’s seat at a board meeting Thursday.
Smith, who has acted as chief negotiator during labour talks for Air Canada’s low-cost Rouge unit, would replace former Air France-KLM CEO Jean-Marc Janaillac, who quit more than three months ago when staff turned down his offer of a pay deal aimed at halting a wave of strikes.
Philippe Evain, head of Air France’s main pilot union, accused the board in a tweet Tuesday of poor decision-making and handing over the keys to the company to a North American executive.
A union representing Air France ground staff questioned Smith’s potential pay package, which the French newspaper Liberation reported will hit 3.3 million euros a year.
The criticism comes amidst growing labour turmoil on the tarmac in Europe, as pilots at Air France, Brussels Airlines and Ryanair have all staged work stoppages in recent months.
A spokesperson for Air France-KLM declined to confirm reports of a new CEO and said the appointment process was ongoing.