A tussle over the reappointment of Pieter Elbers, who leads the KLM unit, sparked a noisy demonstration of support Thursday for the executive from staffers, managers and even Dutch officials, including a petition signed by more than 25,000 employees. The show of force followed news that Air France-KLM’s new CEO, Ben Smith, was considering replacing Elbers on the grounds that he might not be fully behind plans to strengthen ties between Air France and KLM. The flap brought to the fore long-simmering tensions between the French and Dutch carriers, which joined in a 2004 merger, but operate semi-independently. “There is a new top man at the firm who is obviously working on the strategy,’’ Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said at a press conference in The Hague on Friday. “The Dutch government, we must try to act to ensure that the decisions within the company are taken in line with what was previously agreed during the merger and in line with Dutch interests.” Labour accords Smith, a fo...

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