Pieter Elbers can remain KLM's CEO

Pieter Elbers will be allowed to stay on as CEO of Dutch airline KLM, the board of Air France-KLM decided. The Dutch man's term as CEO comes to an end in April, but the intention now is that it will be extended. The shareholders still have to formally approve Elbers' reappointment at the annual meeting in April, NOS reports.

Over the past weeks there's been a lot of speculation about Elbers' position. KLM staff protested for him to stay, gathering 25 thousand signatures on a petition. The commotion led to Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith having "an intensive meeting" with Dutch Ministers Wopke Hoekstra of Finance and Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management in the Netherlands last week. 

Smith wants to forge more unity between KLM and the French parent company, according to the broadcaster. He therefore wants someone from Air France-KLM's board to sit on KLM's supervisory board. There were rumors that Elbers was hampering this process, putting his own position on shaky ground. 

Smith himself will now join KLM's supervisory board. The leadership of the airline group is also being redesigned, with individual directors of Air France and KLM joining the board of the parent company. Smith hopes that this will lead to more cooperation among the airlines in Air France-KLM. 

Hoekstra is satisfied that Elbers will be reappointed. "I welcome this decision", he said to NOS. "Pieter Elbers has done an excellent job at KLM in recent years. The government remains fully committed to protecting Dutch interests in Air France-KLM."

KLM"s supervisory board is also satisfied with the outcome, a spokesperson said to the broadcaster.