[PARIS] Air France-KLM's board of directors on Sunday appointed Jean-Marc Janaillac, the current head of French transport group Transdev, as the group's new chief executive following the surprise resignation of Alexandre de Juniac.
"The board has decided that Mr Janaillac will be co-opted as a group director when Mr de Juniac leaves office on July 31 at the latest. He will then be appointed chairman and chief executive officer of Air France-KLM," the board said in a statement.
The appointment of 63-year-old Janaillac was widely anticipated but French media had expected the announcement to come on Tuesday at the earliest.
Mr De Juniac announced his departure on April 5 to take charge of aviation industry group IATA by the end of July.
He helped Europe's second biggest airline group return to profit last year for the first time since 2008, but his four-year spell at the helm was also marked by acrimonious relations with pilots.
In its statement on Sunday, the French-Dutch airline praised successor Janaillac's "knowledge of the airline industry and its customers".
"His capacity for dialogue with employees and other group stakeholders will enable him to meet the challenges that the Air France-KLM group faces," it added.
The airline's return to profits came after a major restructuring to boost productivity and a 2014 strike by Air France pilots that was one of the longest in the company's history.
The results marked a boost in fortunes for Air France after images of two of its executives, their shirts ripped by staff in an angry protest over redundancies, made world headlines last October.
Management in January unveiled a new 2017-2020 growth plan that will include 1,600 voluntary departures by the end of next year, according to union sources.