Then again, Air France-KLM’s share price did fall eight per cent on news of de Juniac’s departure, so investors either think he's doing a very good job, or that he’s fleeing a floundering ship after an unsuccessful stint at the helm.
IATA, unsurprisingly, supports the former interpretation.
“Under de Juniac’s leadership Air France and the Air France-KLM Group have undergone a successful restructuring which has improved efficiency and strengthened performance,” the airline trade body said in a statement.
Keen Air France-watchers may scoff at that statement and even de Juniac would be reticent to declare the airline’s restructuring complete.
Air France-KLM’s long list of problems include its stuttering effort to establish an expansive low-cost arm, fiery unions and a national air traffic control system that has been on strike roughly once every two months for the past seven years.
Even a recent profit of €118m for 2015 wasn’t cause for cheer, being both puny compared with the €1.5bn raked in by rival IAG, but still large enough to embolden unions in cost-cutting talks.
Yet it is perhaps earlier experience in politics that best suits de Juniac for the position of IATA’s frontman. Nicolas Sarkozy’s deputy chief of staff from 1993 to 1995, he later served as chief of staff to Christine Lagarde until her elevation to head of the IMF.
And despite his heavily-accented English, those posts alone make de Juniac a more conventional choice than, say, Temel Kotil, the Turkish Airlines CEO who had been rumoured – perhaps erroneously – to be in the running.
“Alexandre will be a great leader for IATA. He knows the business well and brings valuable experience from both government and industry,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s outgoing director general, who steps down in a few months’ time after his five-year term.