Air Canada’s CEO Is Set To Retire In Mid-February

Today, October 16th, Air Canada announced that its president and CEO, Calin Rovinescu, will retire effective February 15th, 2021. Having led Canada’s largest airline for nearly 12 years, Rovinescu will be succeeded by Chief Financial Officer Michael Rousseau. 

Calin Rovinescu Air Canada CEO
Taken almost exactly seven years ago, Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu poses while standing next to a model of the (brand new at the time) Boeing Dreamliner 787. Photo: Getty Images

A unique and special relationship

Rovinescu had much to say in the airline’s public announcement, reflecting on the ‘unique and extraordinary relationship’ he has had with the airline and its people for over three decades.

First, a lawyer by trade, Rovinescu, began his relationship with Air Canada as lead external counsel on the airline’s privatization and public offering in 1988. Rovinescu continued advising the airline on significant transactions and events thereafter. It was only in 2000 that he officially joined the company as EVP of Corporate Development and Strategy.

The long-time CEO lists some of the company’s defining moments that he has been a part of, including:

  • Air Canada’s 1988-1989 privatization,
  • The defense against a hostile bid for the carrier in 1999,
  • The merger with Canadian Airlines in 2000,
  • The aftermath of 9-11,
  • Leading the 2003-2004 restructuring “and many others.”
Air Canada’s CEO Is Set To Retire In Mid-February
Rovinescu officially joined Air Canada in the same year the airline merged with Canadian Airlines International. Photo: kambui via Wikimedia Commons 

His proudest achievements

Rovinescu says that he is “especially proud of the company’s transformation over the last dozen years,” which include the following achievements: 

  • Winning international customer and employee awards,
  • Growing the airline’s global network to serve all six inhabited continents,
  • Creating thousands of jobs and protecting pensions,
  • Producing record financial results,
  • Strengthening Air Canada’s balance sheet “dramatically,”
  • Delivering significant shareholder value,

“…and above all,” Rovinescu adds, “developing a lasting, empowered and entrepreneurial culture for our airline.”

Air Canada noes that Rovinescu has served as president and CEO of Air Canada since April 1st, 2009. Before that, he served as the airline’s EVP, Corporate Development & Strategy and as its chief restructuring officer.

Rovinescu has held some impressive industry positions outside of Air Canada and served as chair of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board from 2012-2016 and as chair of the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association in 2014-2015.

Air Canada aircraft
Rovinescu has seen his fair share of livery changes during his time at the airline. Photo: Getty Images

Who’s next?

CFO Michael Rousseau will take over for Rovinescu come February 2021. Describing Rousseau, Rovinescu said:

Mike Rousseau has been a key member of our leadership team since the beginning of our transformation, as well as an invaluable partner and sounding board for me on virtually all aspects of our journey over the last 12 years – and especially the last two as our Deputy CEO…He knows all of our strengths and opportunities and how we can lean into them.”

Air Canada
The registration of Air Canada’s first A220, C-GROV, intentionally includes part of Rovinescu’s name. Photo: Air Canada

Before joining Air Canada, Mike Rousseau was president of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and before that, HBC’s EVP and CFO. Rousseau is a chartered accountant with a Business Administration degree. He was named Canada’s CFO of the year in 2017 and holds FCA and FCPA designations.

Are you familiar with Calin Rovinescu as Air Canada’s CEO? Do you think he’s done a good job leading the airline? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.