Sources not named by Reuters News claimed that the French government will be backing the Ben Smith as the next chief executive officer of Air France-KLM.
Ben Smith is the current CEO of Air Canada.
There are signs that likely appointment of Ben Smith will lead to protests as unions warn against the appointment of a non-French citizen to such position.
Ben Smith is President, Airlines and Chief Operating Officer at Air Canada. He has overall responsibility for all customer service, commercial and operations functions for Air Canada worldwide. Ben also oversees the airline’s market strategy and its operational financial performance.
Ben is the visionary behind Air Canada’s strategic and diversified global network expansion to more than 200 destinations on six continents with a fleet of over 350 aircraft. He is also the lead architect behind fully developing Toronto Pearson as Air Canada’s primary global hub, in addition to Vancouver as a premier gateway to Asia Pacific and Montreal as a gateway to French international markets, where the airline’s global network is fully integrated to its extensive domestic and American transborder networks.
Under Ben’s leadership, Air Canada Rouge, the lower-cost airline that competes effectively in the leisure market worldwide, was launched. He was chief negotiator during the airline’s labour negotiations with the two unions representing pilots and flight attendants, which culminated in landmark ten-year agreements with both groups.
Ben 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.
Ben 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. Ben 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. Tango subsequently evolved into Air Canada’s well-known Economy fare brand when the airline pioneered the successful, simplified branded fare model which is now industry standard around the world.
Ben holds a BA in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.