TUIfly CEO leaves as airline flies closer to tour operator

Roland Keppler (left) will be replaced by Oliver Lackmann (right)
Christian Wyrwa, PR
Roland Keppler (left) will be replaced by Oliver Lackmann (right)

CEO Roland Keppler is leaving TUI Group’s German airline amid a restructuring to bring it closer to the German tour operator business.

Keppler, who has been CEO since October 2016, will leave the airline at the end of the year and take up a new job outside the group. He will be replaced by Oliver Lackmann, the current COO. Lackmann, who joined TUIfly in March, was formerly with the Air Berlin/Niki group and briefly headed Niki prior to its insolvency.

Keppler, who had been TUIfly chief before moving to Europcar, took over the airline again in 2016 under a plan to merge it into an airline group with Air Berlin and Niki. But the plan collapsed, partly due to opposition from TUIfly pilots who called in sick, forcing numerous flights to be cancelled. Since then, he has focused on improving the airline’s financial results and integrating additional planes following Air Berlin’s collapse last year.

David Burling, TUI Group’s head of markets and airlines, said Keppler had taken over TUIfly “under very challenging circumstances and navigated it through turbulent times”. He added: “He prepared the integration into TUI Aviation and developed the strategy for closer cooperation between tour operator and airline, which we are now implementing.”

Under this restructuring, TUIfly will move closer to the German tour operator business as well as to the other TUI Group airlines.

Lackmann will join the board of the TUI Group Central Region (Germany and neighbouring markets). In future, TUI Germany will have more responsibility for decisions affecting TUIfly’s business strategy and will use more of its capacity. “TUIfly will be closely connected to all the agreements of the German tour operator, and TUIfly and TUI Germany will take joint decisions,” the group stated.

At the same time, the 49-year-old will also become TUI Group’s director of flight operations and join the TUI Aviation Board, where he will report to Kenton Jarvis, CEO of TUI Aviation. The group wants to bring its five leisure airlines closer and improve operational synergies by bundling functions at the TUI Aviation level.

TUIfly carried 7.9 million passengers last year and will operate with a fleet of 39 B737s next year. Overall, some 150 planes operate for TUI Group.

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