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Fri, 17 August 2018

Benjamin Smith Leaves Air Canada to Become CEO of Air France-KLM

Benjamin Smith, President, Airlines and Chief Operating Officer of Air Canada, has advised the company that he will resign from his position, effective 31 August 2018.

 He is leaving Air Canada to become CEO of Air France-KLM.

Benjamin Smith. Click to enlarge.

“We wish Ben well in his future endeavours and congratulate him on his appointment. On behalf of our Board of Directors, our executive team and our 30,000 employees, I thank Ben for his significant contributions in many various roles at Air Canada over the past two decades,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer. “There have been many architects of Air Canada's highly successful transformation, and our deep and highly experienced leadership team will continue to deliver on our global ambitions, achieve our targets and drive our operational performance well into the future.”

Smith will take up his duties at Air France-KLM by 30 September 2018, at the latest.

Anne-Marie Couderc, non-executive Chairman of the Air France-KLM and Air France Boards, said, “The arrival of Benjamin Smith is excellent news for the group. Benjamin is a world-renowned leader in the airline sector who successfully transformed Air Canada. As a man who prefers dialogue, he developed and implemented the historical long-term win-win agreements with the airline’s social partners for the benefit of Air Canada’s teams, the airline and all other stakeholders. Benjamin Smith will bring his in-depth knowledge of the sector and his unique energy to the job to resume dialogue with Air France-KLM teams around a shared vision and to define a new go-to-market plan that will address the challenges of strong global competition. His on-the-ground experience will ensure a team-oriented approach to increase customer satisfaction and brands value. On behalf of the Board, I welcome and assure him of our total support for the task ahead.”

Smith has been a member of Air Canada's Executive Committee since 2007, and his previous executive positions at Air Canada include Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Vice President-Network Planning, and President & CEO, Air Canada Vacations.

He began his airline career when he joined Air Ontario, one of Jazz Aviation LP's predecessor regional airlines, as a Customer Sales and Service agent in 1990. He left Air Ontario in 1993 to open a retail corporate travel agency which he owned and operated for eight years. Smith rejoined Air Canada in 2002 as Managing Director of Tango, after overseeing the development and launch of Air Canada's innovative and separately branded, low-fare operation.

Benjamin Smith said, “I am very enthusiastic about this new opportunity. Air France and KLM are both airlines well known for the professionalism and commitment of their teams. I am well aware of the competitive challenges the Air France-KLM Group is currently facing and I am convinced that the airlines’ teams have all the strengths to succeed in the global airline market. I am confident in the group’s capacity to become one of the world’s leading players. I look forward to earning the trust and respect of all teams, working together to win in this highly competitive and fast-changing customer service industry. I am approaching this new challenge with my passion for the aviation sector and with my deep willingness to listen to all stakeholders so we can work together and win. I have spent my entire career in this industry and I am convinced that the teams of the Air France-KLM Group are its strongest assets for its future success. I believe that over the past two decades I have developed very strong trust-based relations with my colleagues at Air Canada and I am looking forward to meeting the teams at Air France-KLM in September to begin working alongside them. I thank the Board of Directors of Air France-KLM to entrust me with this mandate.”

Smith holds a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

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