The head of Belgium's Sabena airline, Paul Reutlinger of Switzerland, has been chosen to lead the merger of the French domestic airlines AOM, Air Littoral and Air Liberté.
Reutlinger's appointment comes after employees of the three airlines went on strike last week, fearing job losses and a dismantling of the three companies. Together the airlines made losses of nearly SFr200 million last year
A communiqué from Sabena in Brussels said that Reutlinger, aged 57, is to take over on August 1 after he was nominated for the post by SAirGroup president and chief executive officer, Philippe Bruggisser.
"Paul Reutlinger will lead the merger of AOM, Air Littoral and Air Liberté to a viable and profitable airline," the communiqué said.
Reutlinger, who has led Sabena to recovery since taking over in February 1996, will be replaced at the Belgian airline by Christoph Müller. Reutlinger will remain on Sabena's board as vice-president.
SAirGroup's president Bruggisser said the new nominations ensure the group had a strong future in Belgium and France.
"Thanks to Paul Reutlinger, we will have in France a man with experience, who knows the airline business and is able to manage the dialogue with social partners."
The merger of the three airlines, planned for October, will create an company with 107 aircraft operating from the twin hubs of Paris-Orly and Nice. It will transport 10 million passengers annually and have a market share of 30 per cent in France.
swissinfo with agencies
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