Air Canada likes to describe him as “a proven leader” with a “wealth of experience.” But one industry analyst has a less flattering term to describe Calin Rovinescu, the company’s new president and chief executive: “hatchet man.” The airline’s surprise move to sideline Montie Brewer and install Rovinescu as his replacement is being treated as a sign of looming trouble. Rovinescu is, after all, an expert at “restructuring” companies. In his first go around with Air Canada during the post-9/11 crisis in the airline industry, Rovinescu slashed routes, costs and jobs so mercilessly the union wouldn’t make any concessions in 2004 unless he quit the company. Now, with Air Canada facing mounting losses, as well as $660 million in debt payments, a $3.2 billion pension fund shortfall, and capital spending needs, Rovinescu’s been brought back, presumably with his hatchet in tow.
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