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British Airways Poaches New Chief Operating Officer From Dutch Rival KLM in Bid to Fix Airline’s Daily Operational Woes

British Airways Poaches New Chief Operating Officer From Dutch Rival KLM in Bid to Fix Airline’s Daily Operational Woes

Plot Twist: British Airways Cabin Crew ARE Being Balloted On Strike Action

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.

a man in a suit and tie

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.

View Comment (1)
  • He’s not the first well qualified person to join BA from another airline or outside organization of credibility. The others
    came and then left when they were denied the resources to do their jobs. Sean Doyle is missed deeply at Aer Lingus and I think he
    really has a good intention for BA but the mid level management he has to rely on are inept and unqualified.
    I hope Mr. De Groot has better luck and it would be even more advantageous if Sean Doyle could persuade the
    heads of cabin service for KLM or a similarly well organized, properly suited and industry savvy airline to sort
    out that end of the customer facing business. BA has good cabin staff but they are under the direction of a group
    of people who are out of touch, industrially inexperienced and unwilling to move from the known track to
    match Doyle’s wider view

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