French manager tipped for TAP top job
A French high-flying executive has been tipped as the next CEO for Portuguese airline TAP.
Christine Ourmières-Widener is said to be the personal favourite of Portugal’s minister of Infrastructures and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, on a short list which will be discussed at a TAP general board meeting on 24 June.
Christine Ourmières-Widner is an aeronautics specialist and ex-CEO of UK city-hoping airline Flybe which went bankrupt because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Up until now TAP has been run by an interim CEO, Ramiro Sequeira and although the name of Christine Ourmières-Widner has not been confirmed by the airline or minister, various sources have admitted that she had the profile that is most suited to take on the role of CEO at TAP which is currently going through a painful restructuring and cost-cutting exercise.
Some Lisbon newspapers have already accepted the French executive’s appointment as a given with ECO online news announcing that she will lead TAP.
The same source claims that the chairman of the Board of Directors of TAP, Miguel Frasquilho, who had been in the seat since 2017, will be reappointed as chairman.
Christine Ourmières-Widener, worked at Air France from 1988, where she started in the maintenance team for the Concorde.
Her responsibilities grew into a commercial role where she eventually headed the Air France KLM team for North America based in New York.
Subsequently appointed UK and Ireland Managing Director for Air France, she was then named Chief Executive of the Irish airline CityJet, after it was bought by Air France, from 1 October 2010 to 2015.
The executive was for some time part of the European Regions Airline Association.
On 20 December 2016, it was announced that she was joining Flybe. She became Chief Executive of Flybe on 16 January 2017.
During their annual meeting in 2018, it was announced by the IATA that she had been elected to the board of directors of the organisation. She was the first woman elected to the board of 31 members. She had been appointed interim director on 24 April 2017, when Fernando Pinto stepped down. Pinto’s long association with TAP may be an influencing factor in Christine Ourmières-Widener’s expected appointment.
On 29 May 2019, she resigned as CEO of Flybe, with her departure taking effect on 15 July of the same year. The move came following recurring financial problems in the company, which was taken over by Connect Airways, a consortium of Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Air and a US investor. It went bankrupt in 2020. In April 2021, a new company renamed Flybe Limited, obtained an operating licence, route licences and airport slots, and has targeted a launch for summer 2021.