Jim French has stepped down as chairman of Birmingham-based business airline Flybe in an overhaul of senior management.
He is replaced by Simon Laffin, chairman of healthcare firm Assura and head of the audit committee at property company Quintain Estates.
Previously, he was group finance and property director at Safeway between 1994 and 2004 and has served as a non-executive director at Birmingham pub firm Mitchells & Butlers and Northern Rock, where he was part of the rescue group. He is also a qualified private pilot.
Mr French joined Flybe in 1990 and drove the business through a period of huge growth to become the UK’s leading domestic airline.
He said: “I have been privileged to lead the company as chief executive since 2001, adding the role of chairman in 2005.
“As part of an orderly transition in August this year we appointed Saad Hammad as chief executive, and now we announce the appointment of Simon Laffin as our new non-executive chairman.
“We are fortunate to have attracted two high calibre and experienced individuals to lead the group in the future.”
Mr Hammad, previously with easyJet, said: “Jim French deserves recognition as the architect of Flybe’s development into a leading regional airline. I look forward to working closely with Simon whose extensive board experience will be of immense importance.”
Mr Laffin added: “Flybe has many challenges ahead, but I believe that under the new management team the group will be developed into a leading regional aviation operator.”