Air France names first ever female director general

Anne Rigail will become the first ever female director general of Air France

Air France has appointed experienced airline director Anne Rigail as its new director general, taking over from previous director Franck Terner as the first woman ever in the role.

Ms Rigail is currently client deputy director general at Air France, and has worked in the company for over 20 years.

She started her airline career in 1991 at Air Inter, and helped spearhead the growth of the company’s domestic routes. When Air Inter merged with Air France in 1997, Ms Rigail was named head of client services at Paris Orly airport.

She became flight director general in 2013, and became client director general in 2017.

In a statement, Benjamin Smith, director general of Air France-KLM - who joined the company from Air Canada in September - said: “I am delighted by the naming of Anne Rigail as director general of Air France. Anne is a great professional of the airline sector.

“Throughout her career within the company, she has always paid particular attention to her teams in the transformations that she has led, and placed the customer at the heart of her all actions.”

Nathalie Stubler, current CEO of Transavia France, had also been rumoured as a potential candidate for the position, but Ms Rigail was confirmed in the role this week.

The head of Air France has been a troubled role in recent months, amid strikes and disagreements with ground staff, cabin crew, and pilots over pay.

Former head Jean-Marc Janaillac left the company in May this year after failing to reach an agreement over salary, while Franck Terner was always seen as an interim head pending further negotiations.

As part of her new role, Ms Rigail will now be expected to continue the negotiations with unions and employees, and shore up Air France’s competitiveness while restoring trust with its employees.

In recent months, pilot union SNPL has completely changed its leadership, and commentators have suggested that this “freshness” could lead to a new agreement between unions and management.

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