KLM says Pieter Elbers is replacing Camiel Eurlings as president and chief executive officer of the Dutch airline with immediate effect.

In a statement released Wednesday night, KLM said Eurlings and the KLM board "decided that he would step down immediately as president and pave the way for his successor."

Eurlings is a former government minister and a member of the International Olympic Committee whose term as KLM chief was due to expire in April 2015. The airline did not say why he was replaced early.

The 44-year-old Elbers joined KLM in 1992 and was chief operating officer until his promotion to the top job.

KLM is the Netherlands-based arm of Franco-Dutch airline Air France-KLM.