After seven years running Asia's largest airline, Japan Airlines (JAL) chief executive Isao Kaneko is handing over to company veteran Toshiyuki Shinmachi.

JAL said in early March that Shinmachi would be confirmed as chief executive at a general meeting of shareholders in June, but soon after that it said plans had changed and Kaneko would step down on 1 April.

Kaneko, 67, departed earlier than planned to take responsibility for recent operational incidents that prompted a highly unusual public reprimand from the government. The reprimands also led to the demotion of a handful of other senior executives. Kaneko will remain with the carrier as executive committee chairman.

Shinmachi, 62, takes over as group chief executive after being president of JAL Group holding company JAL Corporation. He joined JAL in April 1965 after graduating from Gakushuin University in Tokyo, where he studied politics and economics. Much of his early career at JAL was in cargo operations and sales, and his last position with JAL Cargo Sales was as vice-president of the Japan region from July 1995.

In June 1997 he became a JAL board member and became senior vice-president of the airline group. By June 2003 he was an executive vice-president and a year later became president of JAL Corporation.

Kaneko became head of the JAL Group in 1998 after then-president Akira Kondo and then-chairman Susumu Yamaji resigned to take responsibility for a more than $1 billion write-down to cover accumulated losses and to repay debt.


Source: Airline Business