CEO Pieter Elbers leaves KLM ‘after good consultation’

“Given the end of his second term, which offers the Supervisory Board a natural moment for consideration, we have concluded after consultation with Pieter that we will not start a third term. It is also a moment when the restructuring plan has largely been implemented,” the commissioners said in a press release. Elbers was responsible for that restructuring.

According to the Supervisory Board, the early announcement means that the search for a successor can start in good time and that he can ‘get a proper training period’.

Be in my way

In 2019, there was a lot of talk about Elbers’ reappointment after his first term. Elbers would be seen by the management of Air France-KLM as an obstacle to the plans of the parent company to change the structure. He was repeatedly opposed to plans that would limit KLM’s autonomy. At the time, at least 25,000 KLM employees signed a petition for the reappointment of Elbers and Minister Wopke Hoekstra also got involved.

The CEO could not be reached for further explanation of his departure. A spokesperson says it’s “too early for farewell interviews.”


When asked whether Elbers will receive a departure bonus, KLM says to RTL Z: “What has been agreed is that Pieter Elbers will not enter into a third term as CEO & President. That’s all. There are no other agreements.”

According to KLM, the departure has nothing to do with the financial position of the company, which is in heavy weather due to corona. “Pieter will soon serve as CEO for nine years. That is a good time to hand over the baton.”


Elbers says in the press release that he will continue to devote himself fully to KLM until the end of his term. “I am very proud of this company and its wonderful employees. They remain the strength of KLM, especially in these hectic and difficult times. My thirty-year career with the blue KLM family is an unimaginably beautiful journey that I will always cherish.”


Elbers has been on the board of the airline for eleven years and took up the helm of KLM at the end of 2014. He was the successor of Camiel Eurlings, who at the time was set aside after 1.5 years of employment. Major steps were taken under Elbers’ leadership until the corona crisis. As a result, KLM’s profitability was clearly improved and more investments were made. Elbers did ask for sacrifices from the staff.

Elbers is also a member of the Executive Committee of Air France-KLM. He also gets out there.

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