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Finnair says CEO to step down

The chief executive of Finnair Mika Vehvilaeinen will step down from his post at the end of February, the company announced on Monday, two weeks after rumours surfaced in the media of his departure.

Vehvilaeinen, who helped bring the beleaguered airline to profit in the first nine months of 2012 after two years in the red, is leaving to take over as head of cargo handling equipment group Cargotec, Finnair said.

Finnair has struggled to turn a profit in recent years. Vehvilaeinen took the helm in November 2009 and was tasked with returning the company to profit.

Finnair, which posted a 10.6 million ($14.1 million) profit in the first nine months of last year, is scheduled to present its full 2012 earnings on February 8.

"I believe now is a good time to leave Finnair in the hands of my future successor. The company is heading towards a positive financial result and we are in a better position to build the kind of Finnair that upcoming major investments require," Vehvilaeinen said.

He will leave the company as of February 28.

Finnair's board of directors has appointed Ville Iho, chief operating officer, to be deputy CEO and lead Finnair until a new CEO has been appointed, the company said.