British Airways has managed to poach René de Groot from rival Dutch flag carrier KLM to become the airline’s new chief operating officer. British Airways has been on the hunt for a new COO since April when Jason Mahoney, the incumbent in the role, had some responsibilities stripped from him in a management reshuffle.
René de Groot will say goodbye to a 32-year career at KLM when he joins British Airways in October. De Groot was appointed COO of KLM back in November 2014 and has been a member of the airline’s Board of Managing Directors since 2015.
In a statement, De Groot acknowledged that he was leaving KLM at a “turbulent time” but said he was leaving “in the knowledge that the road to recovery has begun and that the organisation will be able to do so despite the continuing challenges”.
De Groot began his working life in the aviation industry as a pilot and he maintains his recency on Airbus aircraft to this day. During his long career at KLM, De Groot has held a number of positions in operations and engineering.
KLM and British Airways have broadly similar operating models and products which should make the transition relatively straightforward. Interestingly, British Airways has sought talent from outside the portfolio of its parent IAG, where it normally prefers to get its senior leadership appointments from.
Back in April, it was revealed that BA boss Sean Doyle had stripped Jason Mahoney of some of his responsibilities and had moved him into a newly created role of Chief Technical Officer.
As COO, Mahoney helped to orchestrate the airline’s mass workforce reduction at the start of the pandemic but the airline is now facing major staffing shortfalls which is severely hampering BA’s recovery.
Doyle has overseen a shakeup of senior managers at the airline over the last few months as he seeks to set a new course for the embattled airline.
Senior executives responsible for daily operations, IT and customer experience have all been replaced, moved into other roles, or had responsibility stripped from them.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.