French pilot union SNPL has raised concerns about Air France-KLM's "inability to renew itself from within", following a report that an Air Canada executive is poised to become the Euoprean airline group's new leader.

Air France-KLM is seeking a chief executive to replace Jean-Marc Janaillac, who resigned in May following the rejection of a pay deal by Air France unions. On 8 August, Le Monde named Air Canada chief operating officer Benjamin Smith as the group's preferred candidate for the role.

SNPL has since issued a statement that complains of Air France-KLM's "chronic incapacity to welcome new heads and, therefore, to deploy new strategies".

The union recalls that pilots had been hopeful that Janaillac's arrival in 2016 would "provoke a cascade of renewal in the executive committee" but argues that "the opposite has occurred".

It says it was "stunned" by the departure of Jerome Nanty – group human-resources chief between July 2016 and September 2017 – who it describes as the architect of the Trust Together agreement aimed at improving labour relations.

Now, SNPL contends, board members such as Air France-KLM finance chief Frederic Gagey, Air France chief Franck Terner and the French carrier's HR head Gilles Gateau are "maneuvering for the sole purpose of saving their position".

The failure of labour negotiations have left the French part of the group "very weakened", in the union's view. But it also believes that Smith's ascension "would be facilitated by the promise of keeping the French old-guard in place".

On the premise that it is not currently possible for an internal candidate to land the top job, SNPL is urging the board of directors to be "impartial" and to consider applicants with "profiles that meet the vital needs of the company".

The union warns: "Two years ago, when Alexandre de Juniac left, we missed the opportunity to find the ideal person. Let's not miss a second time. Air France might not recover this time."

Source: Cirium Dashboard