Head of Polish airline LOT quits after overseeing reform

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The CEO of Poland's national airline, widely credited with turning around the company, unexpectedly announced his resignation Tuesday.

The spokesman for the Polish treasury ministry, Emil Gorecki, said Sebastian Mikosz' resignation was accepted, but was a surprise as talks are underway with a potential investor for the airline, LOT.

The carrier said in a statement that Mikosz will leave after Sept. 17.

Mikosz has led LOT since Feb. 2013, when the carrier was close to bankruptcy despite some 100 million euros in state aid. That aid put LOT at odds with competition regulators at the European Commission, but was later approved, as the carrier restructured and started making a profit under Mikosz.

Mikosz introduced a stern reform plan, cutting jobs and unprofitable air connections and finding a new potential investor. The airline made a net profit last year, for the first time since 2007.

"After carrying out all these tasks, Sebastian Mikosz decided to terminate his cooperation with the company," LOT said in a statement.

Observers said Mikosz likely resigned in protest at the ministry dragging its feet in talks with a key investor. Polish media identified the investor as Indigo Partners, which has invested in Wizz Air, the Hungarian budget carrier.

The ministry said it will continue the negotiations.