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Rousseau to succeed Rovinescu as CEO of Air Canada


October 16, 2020
Wings Staff

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Michael Rousseau has served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Air Canada since December 2018. (Photo: Air Canada)

Air Canada today announced President and Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu will retire on February 15, 2021, following the completion of the airline’s current fiscal year. He will be succeeded by Michael Rousseau, who has served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Air Canada since December 2018, having previously served as its Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer since 2007.

Air Canada notes Rousseau played an instrumental role in Air Canada’s transformation, pointing to his work in stabilizing Air Canada’s pension plans, while also having had oversight of Air Canada Rouge, fleet planning, treasury, corporate real estate, procurement, cost transformation, mergers and acquisitions and investor relations.

Prior to joining Air Canada, Rousseau served as President of Hudson’s Bay Company, also previously serving as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and graduated from York University’s Schulich School of Business with a Business Administration degree. He was named Canada’s CFO of the year in 2017.

Calin Rovinescu has led Air Canada for close to 12 years. (Photo: Air Canada)

Rovinescu has led Air Canada since April 1, 2009, having previously served as its Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Strategy and as its Chief Restructuring Officer. He was Chair of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board from 2012-2016 and served as Chair of the Board of Governors of the International Air Transport Association in 2014-2015.

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In 2019, Rovinescu was recognized as Strategist of the Year and as Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for the second time by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine. In 2016, he was recognized as Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year by the Financial Post Magazine. Among several airline industry recognitions, he was awarded the Executive Leadership Award at the 2018 Airline Strategy Awards in London, England.

In 2018, Rovinescu was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. Air Canad explains this appointment was primarily based on Rovinescu promoting the associated charitable causes and organizations of Canada’s largest airline; nd for his leadership in spearheading humanitarian relief following several natural disasters. In 2019, it was announced that he would be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

Rovinescu provided the following statement about his retirement and career with Air Canada:

“I have enjoyed a unique and very special relationship with Air Canada and our outstanding people for over three decades, on the front lines of many of the company’s defining moments – the 1988-1989 privatization, the defence against a hostile bid for Air Canada in 1999, our merger with Canadian Airlines in 2000, the aftermath of 9-11, leading the 2003-2004 restructuring and many others.

“But, more than anything else in my career, I am especially proud of the company’s transformation over the last dozen years during which we built Air Canada into one of the world’s leading carriers and a global champion for Canada, winning international customer and employee awards, growing our global network to serve all six inhabited continents, creating thousands of jobs and protecting pensions, producing record financial results, strengthening our balance sheet dramatically, delivering significant shareholder value, and above all, developing a lasting, empowered and entrepreneurial culture for our airline. This is directly attributable to the efforts of the wonderful women and men of Air Canada who have supported this multi-year transformation with innovation, hard work and great devotion.

“While Covid-19 has decimated the global airline industry, fortunately we entered the pandemic much healthier than almost any other airline in the world as a result of our strong balance sheet, track record and engaged workforce. Our Covid-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan is now nearly complete and the remaining steps will be put in place prior to year-end. We have raised around $6 billion of incremental liquidity.

“We continue to implement a series of significant fleet, capacity, network and workforce reductions that are required for the next several years before we rebuild from that smaller footprint. We have reduced our cost structure, our capital spending and our supplier arrangements for the next years. At the same time, we have completed the implementation of our new Reservation System and our acquisition of Aeroplan and we will have launched our new industry-leading loyalty program. We have concluded a revised Acquisition Agreement for Transat AT, a leader in leisure travel, subject to regulatory approval. Air Canada will be extremely well positioned for the recovery when borders reopen, travel restrictions are lifted and the broader economy is functioning again.

“Mike Rousseau has been a key member of our leadership team since the beginning of our transformation, as well as an invaluable partner and sounding board for me on virtually all aspects of our journey over the last 12 years – and especially the last two as our Deputy CEO. He knows all of our strengths and opportunities and how we can lean into them. I am truly delighted that the Board of Directors has endorsed Mike as my successor for this next stage and I look forward to working closely with Mike and the rest of our strong executive team through the transition next February.”