Corner Office Shifts: Airlines bid adieu to retiring chief execs

Air Canada and Flair find new CEOs, while OLG welcomes its own new company leader.

New president and CEO prepares to step in at OLG

Duncan Hannay takes over as president of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) on Oct. 26, succeeding Stephen Rigby, who led the organization for the last five years.

In a release, Hannay said he will lead the Crown Corp. to develop “a strategy for the future and to lead the organization through this unprecedented and very challenging time,” working with its partners to “capitalize on growth opportunities and contribute to Ontario’s recovery in communities province-wide.”

Hannay was most recently president and CEO of Street Capital Group, and prior remits include COO of financial services software company Finastra and president of payments and lending tech provider D+H Canada.

Calin Rovinescu set to retire as Air Canada president and CEO

Calin Rovinescu will retire as president and CEO of Canada’s largest airline on February 15, 2021 – the end of its current fiscal year – after almost 12 years leading the company. He will be succeeded by Michael Rousseau, who has served as Deputy CEO and CFO of Air Canada since December 2018, having previously served as its EVP and CFO since 2007.

Since early this year, Rovinescu has led the company through its response to the pandemic, which closed borders and grounded airplanes. The company continues to implement reductions in its fleet, capacity, network and workforce, and throughout the crisis, he has lobbied the government for financial support for the airline industry and pushed to ease travel restrictions.

“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,” he said in a release, adding “Air Canada will be extremely well positioned for the recovery when borders reopen, travel restrictions are lifted and the broader economy is functioning again.”

Rovinescu, a former president and former EVP and CFO of Hudson’s Bay Company, led Air Canada as CEO since 2009. Prior to that, he served as EVP of corporate development and strategy from 2000 to 2004 and as chief restructuring officer during its 2003 and 2004 restructuring.

Over nearly three decades with the company, he was on the frontlines of many defining moments in its history, including its 1988-1989 privatization, its fight against a hostile takeover by Onex in 1999, its merger with Canadian Airlines in 2000 and its response to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. More recently, he oversaw Air Canada’s 2018 acquisition of Aimia – and its subsequent relaunch in August – and a recently renewed agreement to take over Air Transat for a much lower price than expected.

Flair Airlines welcomes new president and CEO

Stephen Jones has taken over as president and CEO of Edmonton-based low-cost carrier Flair Airlines. He replaces outgoing chief executive Jim Scott, who is retiring from the company.

Jones was previously managing director and deputy CEO of ultra-low-cost carrier Wizz Air, where he oversaw commercial, marketing, supply chain and digital operations. Before that, he served as Air New Zealand’s chief strategy networks and alliances officer.

Like all carriers, Flair has battled a health crisis that has left many travellers wary of flying since the beginning of the year. It currently operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft flying to eleven Canadian destinations.