• The Jet Lag Junkie

New Appointed CEO of Air France - Anne Rigail

Anne is now the first female CEO to lead a major airline.

Photo: Air France-KLM

Air France has been in the news the past few years, but not always in the best light. This past year the company has been plagued with issues like strikes and layoffs. The news of new female CEO Anne Rigail is a breath of fresh air that should be welcomed by all.

Let's provide some clarification. In August it was announced that Benjamin Smith would be appointed CEO of Air France-KLM, the parent company of Air France and of KLM (3 different companies, with Air France-KLM being the "parent" of the other 2). This was done after the previous CEO resigned earlier this year. Then this past fall, the CEO of Air France resigned, leaving Air France without a permanent CEO. This mean Benjamin Smith was also the acting CEO for Air France (talk about workload). That is no longer the case with the December 12th announcement by Air France stating Anne Rigail will assume her new role as the CEO of Air France beginning December 17th, 2018.

Photo: Anne Rigail, Air France

Is she qualified? Sure is! Anne has worked in the airline industry for most of her career with a wide range of accomplishments and promotions. Having someone who has worked in the airline industry in a wide variety of roles for almost her entire career can only be considered a huge benefit. The real world experience in a wide range of roles make this promotion well deserved. Air France seems to be heading the right direction.

  • In 1996 she was appointed head of Air France customer service at Paris-ORY

  • In 1999 she became director of passenger and baggage connections at Paris-CDG

  • In 2005 she was appointed head of the Paris-CDG operations control center

  • In 2009 she became VP ground operations at Paris-CDG

  • In 2013 she became EVP inflight service for the entire airline

  • In 2017 she became EVP customer for the entire airline

Per Airfrance.com, Anne-Marie Couderc, Chairwoman of the Air France-KLM Board of Directions had the following to say:

“I would like to thank Benjamin Smith for the outstanding work he has accomplished during his time as acting CEO Air France. Under his leadership, our airline has rapidly taken decisive steps, renewing constructive social dialogue, and proposing a new executive governance structure as seen with the arrival of Anne Rigail. I wish Anne every success in her new position, for the benefit of both Air France and the Air France-KLM Group. I am very pleased that she has accepted this very exciting new challenge."

Benjamin Smith had the following to say:

“I am delighted that Anne Rigail is to become the new CEO of Air France. Anne is a strong professional in the airline industry. Throughout her career, she has always paid particular attention to employees while implementing the many projects and transformations she has led, and placed the customer at the heart of everything she does. With the support and commitment of every single employee, I am confident we can rise to the challenges for Air France today, ensuring service excellence to all our customers. I have complete faith that Anne will succeed in transforming Air France. Together with Pieter Elbers, President and CEO of KLM, the Air France-KLM Group is taking an important step in its reorganisation to reconquer its market position."

It has to be a breath of fresh air over at Air France to take a moment and share some very positive news. I wish Anne the best and applaud the decision to not only be a more diverse workplace, but to have someone who has worked from the ground up in the airline industry be out in a role to make a difference.


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