OnAir appoints new CEO

Benoit Debains, former Senior Vice President, Finance, of Airbus SAS, is to become its new CEO of OnAir as of March 1. It was also announced that senior SITA executive, David Russell, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer.

OnAir chairman, Francesco Violante, said, “OnAir is moving from the start-up phase to become a full service company capable of delivering high quality services to a fast expanding customer base. The company’s two major shareholders, Airbus and SITA, are committed to strengthening the management team as we move towards delivery of an exciting new product for the air transport industry, enabling the inflight use of mobile phones and other personal communication devices.”

Violante thanked outgoing CEO George Cooper for his contribution towards launching the OnAir brand. 

“George has made a significant contribution to the creation and evolution of OnAir and we wish him well in his future endeavours. We are very pleased to welcome as our new CEO, Benoit Debains, who has been associated with OnAir as a board member since the venture was launched two years ago.  He brings with him to this position a wealth of experience from his successful career with Airbus,” he said.

Violante also announced the appointment of David Russell as Chief Operating Officer for OnAir. “David who was previously Vice President of SITA’s Airline Operations and AIRCOM Services, will be responsible for all operational aspects of the OnAir service including the development, delivery and support of future products.”


Benoit Debains takes up his appointment on 1 March but is already working closely with the OnAir team.

“I am delighted to be joining OnAir at this critical moment in its development. We are in a period of transition and the coming years will be critically important for the future success of the venture,” said Debains.

The 50-year-old Debains joined Airbus in 1982. After a period in the Sales Contract Division, he moved to the USA as senior director, sales finance in 1984.
He created Airbus Financial Services, of which he became Managing Director. In 1994 he became Vice President Customer Finance. He has been Senior Vice President, Finance, of Airbus since September 2000. Debains has been a long-standing SITA board member and chairman of the SITA Audit Committee