Yesterday, Jean-Cyril Spinetta confirmed hints he’d been
making that he would not see out the rest of his contract which runs to April
2014 and will step down as head of Air France-KLM in the summer on 1 July.
Similar to the manner in which his beloved French rugby team
turned to a trusted pair of hands by returning the captaincy to Thierry
Dusautoir while in a desperate predicament in this year’s Six Nations rugby
tournament, so Spinetta resumed the job he had left in 2009.
Along with fellow Air France-KLM founding father, former KLM
CEO Leo van Wijk, Spinetta returned as chief executive to put in place a
restructuring plan which aims to reduce the group’s net debt by €2 billion
($2.6 billion) by 2015.
Yet now with the plan in place and showing signs of success,
to continue the rugby metaphor, he has offloaded the ball to compatriot
Alexandre de Juniac who is seen as the man most capable of driving the team towards
De Juniac’s career in aviation stretches back to the mid-90s
with roles including general manager for Asia, Africa, the Middle East and
Latin America at Thales. He left the industry in 2009 to become French finance
ministry chief of staff under former French cabinet minister Christine Lagarde,
but returned as head of Air France in 2011 following the resignation of
His elevation to the top role at the Air France-KLM group
comes as reward for his success in pushing through difficult cost-saving
measures at Air France, with staff signing revised labour agreements without
resorting to industrial action.