By Jan Hromadko
German flagship airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG (>> Deutsche Lufthansa AG) said Monday its supervisory board has appointed Simone Menne as successor to Chief Financial Officer Stephan Gemkow, who will become chief executive of German closely-held investment firm Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH.
Lufthansa in a statement said that the appointment of Menne will become effective July 1. Her contract will be valid for an initial three years, the company added.
Menne--who joined Lufthansa in 1989--will be the first woman on Lufthansa's executive board, amid an ongoing public debate in Germany that more female officials should represent large corporations on top management level.
She most recently served as finance chief of British Midland Ltd, or bmi, the loss-making U.K. carrier Lufthansa has agreed to sell to British Airways and Iberia parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (>> International Consolidated Airlines Grp).
The change of CFO at Lufthansa comes amid a drastic cost cutting drive at the company in an effort to mitigate high fuel prices and tough competition.
The German airline group, which carried 100 million passengers for the first time in 2011, has said it intends to reduce purchasing, administrative, and payroll costs as part of a EUR1.5 billion three-year savings plan.
It has said that its profitability needs to be increased dramatically to ensure it can finance future growth without risking its credit ratings by taking on huge amounts of debt.
Last week, Lufthansa said it will cut 3,500 administrative jobs globally as part of these cost cuts.
Lufthansa had earlier this month said that Gemkow requested the early termination of his contract--which would have expired on May 31, 2014--to join investment firm Haniel, the company that owns a majority stake in Germany's largest retailer, Metro AG (>> METRO AG).
-By Jan Hromadko, Dow Jones Newswires; +49 69 29 725 503; firstname.lastname@example.org