Danish Hub Loses CEO to World’s Second Busiest International Airport

Kevin Rozario


July 5, 2023

mod CPH LHR Thomas Woldbye

Thomas Woldbye took the hot seat at LHR in October.

© Copenhagen Airports A/S

The current CEO of Copenhagen Airport (CPH), Thomas Woldbye, will step down from the role on September 30 to run London Heathrow (LHR), the world’s second busiest international hub.

Woldbye will replace John Holland-Kaye at LHR when he departs later this year after nearly 10 years in post. According to a statement from Heathrow Airport, the new appointment follows “an extensive recruitment process with Woldbye emerging as “the standout candidate among a pool of exceptional contenders, both internally and from across the world.”

Underlining that sentiment, Heathrow Chairman, Lord Paul Deighton, said: “Leading Britain’s hub airport is one of the most important jobs in global aviation and the vacancy attracted the best caliber talent from across the world. Thomas’s achievements at Copenhagen mirror Heathrow’s long-term strategy. 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.

Holland-Kaye added: “I’ve worked with Thomas over recent years and am a great admirer of his leadership on diversity and sustainability and his championing of passenger needs. I’m confident that the Heathrow team will be the cornerstone of his success in delivering the best airport service in the world.”

CPH Starts Own CEO Search

Woldbye’s departure will be a big loss for CPH and its board has started the process to find a new CEO. No doubt, some of the candidates will have been part of the selection for the top job at LHR.

In a social media post, Woldbye commented: “It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to leave CPH, the wonderful company I have had the honor and joy to lead for the past 12 years. It has been a truly fantastic time with a business in constant development and growth going from 20 to 30 million passengers in eight years, with many important expansion projects delivered.

“There’s never a good time to leave but there could be worse times than now. We are through the worst effects of the pandemic, the airport is in good shape and there are robust plans for the future. I am proud of what we have achieved and of the airport that I hand over to my successors.”

mod heathrow and tower

Heathrow Airport's distinctive control tower.

© Heathrow Airport Limited

About London Heathrow and his new role, Woldbye said: “I am naturally excited, as well as humbled, to have been chosen to lead what is arguably the most famous airport in the world. I have personally experienced how the excellent team at Heathrow has improved both the infrastructure and the service to passengers. Heathrow is an important engine for the British economy and is inextricably linked to the success of London and the UK. My ambition will be to make Heathrow even better for passengers, for airlines, and the wider UK community.”

The CPH CEO will soon oversee LHR’s future strategy following a huge £11 billion ($14 billion) private investment program by Heathrow’s shareholders that has transformed the hub. At CPH, he forged strong links with the Danish government (a part owner of Copenhagen Airports A/S), and fostered partnerships with airlines to drive investment and development, including significant expansions in terminal capacity.

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

Lord Deighton paid tribute to Holland-Kaye, saying: “John 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.”