The Supervisory Board of KLM has nominated a successor of Pieter Elbers as President and CEO of the Dutch airline. The preferred candidate is Marjan Rintel, currently President at Dutch Railway Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS).

The nomination still needs approval from KLM’s Works Council and the airline’s shareholders, including the Dutch state. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the nomination of Rintel has caused tensions between the Works Council and the Supervisory Board, with the Council having a preference for another candidate who would come from within the airline: Pieter Bootsma. By law, the Works Council is entitled to offer advice on the nomination of the company’s President and CEO, especially as he or she will act as statutory director.

Before joining NS, Rintel worked in different positions at AIr France-KLM, including operations and marketing. She will take over from Elbers already from July 1. That’s much sooner than the official expiration of his contract, which runs until May y2023. But his premature departure isn’t a complete surprise. After the Board opted not to renew his contract  for a third term in January there seemed little else to do for Elbers.

In a media statement, Cees ‘t Hart, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, says: “We are delighted that Marjan will come on board as CEO on the 1st of July. With her broad managerial, commercial and operational experience, we are bringing in someone who is close to the staff and who, together with her team, will continue to shape the future of KLM as a customer-focused, sustainable and financially healthy company. We are convinced that her knowledge of the sector, her network and her experience in the political arena will contribute to this.”

The nomination has been approved by the Board of Directors of Air France-KLM. Exactely how Rintels role will look like remains to be seen, but observers expect the new CEO to operate at a different level from Elbers. He was known for his outspoken comments on the position of KLM within the airline holding. While he was adored for this by KLM staff, his views frequently got Elbers at odds with Group CEO Benjamin Smith. The Canadian is known to be keen to integrate KLM more within the holding, which has a strong presence of Air France.

Smith, whose own contract has been renewed for five years until May 2027 today as well, is also quoted in the release: “I am extremely happy to welcome Marjan to our team as the new CEO of KLM. I know that Marjan will succeed in making KLM even stronger by continuing to build on the Group’s strengths.” Note the double role here of Smith, who also has a seat on KLM’s Supervisory Board.


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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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