Lufthansa insists no CEO decision despite Spohr reports

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Lufthansa insists no decision has yet been made on a successor to outgoing chief executive Christoph Franz, rejecting a media report suggesting that Carsten Spohr has been chosen to succeed him this May.

Citing sources within the airline, German tabloid Bild reports that board member Spohr – who heads Lufthansa's passenger arm – was selected in an “internal” decision that is to be approved during the next supervisory board meeting in March.

Lufthansa says, however, that no decision about Franz’s successor has yet been made and both internal and external clients for the chief executive’s post are still being evaluated by the supervisory board.

Franz unexpectedly revealed in September that he will not extend his contract with Lufthansa beyond its first term and leave the airline in May to become executive chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche.

He became the airline group’s chief executive in January 2011, having previously been responsible for Lufthansa’s passenger arm.

Spohr’s public profile has of late been raised. For example, he and Franz together announced Lufthansa’s order for Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X widebodies last September. Another key event was the unveiling of Germanwings’ revamp in late 2012 as part of Lufthansa’s European route transfer to the low-cost subsidiary.

Spohr – who started his career with Lufthansa as a pilot – is seen as a candidate who might be able to repair relations between the management and flight crew members. Both sides have long been arguing about a new labour agreement with no visible progress.