SITA boss steps down after airline criticism [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Brussels
SITA's top executive, Paul Coby, the Chair of the Board, is stepping down after 11 years following criticisms of the organisation by a number of leading airlines earlier this month.
Bill Miller of United Airlines has been appointed to replace Coby as Chair of the SITA Board for a three-year-term.
Airlines are members, customers and shareholders of SITA, which provides communication and IT services to the aviation industry.
Coby, a former aviation IT executive, has lead SITA for the last 11 years. He, however, stepped away from the aviation industry after taking on an executive IT position with British retailer John Lewis three years ago.
Coby announced his resignation in Brussels shortly after SITA's annual general assembly on Wednesday. He will, however, stay on the board.
Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways' chief executive, said in Doha at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Assembly earlier this month that non airline executives should not sit on the SITA board.
SITA also announced that it is moving forward with a governance review, which several airline executives called for in Doha, including Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG).
"I wanted the fact that I'm a non member director not get in the way of the review," Coby said.
In response to the criticisms by the airlines, Coby said that "any organisation has to listen to its customers."
Asked if he felt that he had been pushed out, a disappointed Coby simply said, after 11 years at the helm, "Times up. I had a three-year term."
Franceso Violante, SITA chief executive, also announced that he is now staying on to oversee the governance review after previously announcing his retirement.
Al Baker, who is also this year's IATA president, had been critical of SITA announcing the resignation 18 months before Violante was to step down.
"In theory you are having a CEO who is a lame duck for the next 18 months, so nobody is ready to take his direction," Al Baker said in Doha.
Violante said he is staying on to provide the organisation with "continuity" during the governance review and implementation. The review will be presented to members who will vote on its implementation at next year's annual general assembly.
Violante declined to say whether he believed Al Baker would be happy with the changes.
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