Copenhagen’s Thomas Woldbye is incoming Heathrow CEO

By Faye Bartle |

Thomas Woldbye

Thomas Woldbye joins Heathrow from Copenhagen Airport. 

Thomas Woldbye, currently the boss of Copenhagen Airport, will replace Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye when he steps down later this year, it has been confirmed.

Following an extensive recruitment process, Woldbye emerged as the ‘standout’ candidate among a pool of exceptional contenders, both internally and from across the world, according to the The Board of Heathrow Airport, which announced the appointment earlier today.

Holland-Kaye will remain in post until Woldbye officially starts later in the year.

“I am naturally excited and proud, as well as humbled, to have been chosen to lead what is arguably the most famous airport in the world on its future journey,” said Woldbye.

“I have personally experienced how the excellent team at Heathrow has successfully improved both the infrastructure and the service to passengers over the past years to create a strong platform for further success. Heathrow is an important engine for the British economy and inextricably linked to the success of London and the wider UK.

“I look forward to being part of charting the path for this iconic company. My ambition will be to make the airport even better for passengers, for airlines, the community and every part of the UK.”

Woldbye has served as CEO of Copenhagen Airport since 2011, and has become known for championing passenger service, sustainability and growth.

He forged strong links with the Danish Government (part owners of Copenhagen Airport) and fostered partnerships with airlines to drive investment and development, including significant recent expansions in terminal capacity at the airport.

Prior to his role at Copenhagen Airport, Woldbye spent 27 years at Møller-Mærsk, leading the global shipping and ferry divisions and working in several different countries around the world.

He will be tasked with overseeing the airport’s future strategy following an £11bn private investment programme by Heathrow’s shareholders that has helped to transform the UK hub into the ‘modern, top-rated airport’ it’s known as today.

Heathrow.

Heathrow welcomed 16.9 million passengers in Q1, beating Paris, Frankfurt and Schiphol to retain its position as ‘Europe’s busiest airport’ and ‘second in the world for international travel’. Photo: Heathrow Airport.

“After an extensive and rigorous review of candidates, the Heathrow Board is delighted to appoint Thomas Woldbye as the next Heathrow CEO,” commented Heathrow Chairman Lord Paul Deighton.

“Leading Britain’s hub airport is one of the most important jobs in global aviation and the vacancy attracted the best calibre talent from across the world. Thomas’s achievements at Copenhagen not only mirror Heathrow’s long-term strategy, but his track record in successfully running a major airport and working closely with stakeholders to secure consensus and deliver positive results stood out in the selection process.

“The Board would like to pay tribute to John,” he added. “He set a strong example in his unyielding dedication to his colleagues and will leave behind a legacy of having transformed Heathrow into a premier global hub, developed the plan for Heathrow expansion that secured overwhelming Parliamentary approval, navigated the business through the extremely challenging times during the Covid 19 pandemic, overcame the unprecedented challenges of the post-pandemic recovery in demand and led the industry towards a net zero future.”

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye passes the baton after almost a decade in post. Photo: Heathrow Airport. 

“An airport is more than just runways and terminal buildings – it’s the people who come to work every day to deliver excellent service to our passengers,” said John Holland-Kaye, who has been in post for almost a decade.

“It’s been the privilege of my lifetime to lead our fantastic team. I’ve worked with Thomas over recent years and am a great admirer of his leadership on diversity and sustainability and his championing of the needs of passengers. I’m confident that the Heathrow team will be the cornerstone of his success in delivering the best airport service in the world.”

The Board of Directors in Copenhagen Airports A/S is now starting the process to identify the new CEO.

“I receive the news of Thomas Woldbye’s resignation with deep sadness, but I have nothing but respect and understanding for his decision to accept the offer of becoming CEO of Heathrow Airport,” said Lars Nørby Johansen, Chairman of the Board at Copenhagen Airports A/S .

“Thomas Woldbye has been a highly successful CEO to Copenhagen Airports A/S. In his time as CEO, he has led the airport ambitiously through its growth period with passenger levels rising to record levels from 20 to 30 million in 8 years, and with a steady hand he has guided us through the troubling Covid pandemic”.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Thomas Woldbye for his 12 years as CEO for Copenhagen Airports A/S. His dedicated work, together with our strong management team, developing the airport leaves us in a strong and solid place to continue our vision of being Architects of the Future Airport. With Thomas Woldbye’s decision to step down as CEO, the Board of Directors has initiated the process to identify the next CEO of Copenhagen Airports”.

Click here to read our latest feature on Heathrow Airport in the June/July e-zine.

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