IAG chief executive to step down

Lilia
By Lilia January 17, 2020 15:28

IAG chief executive to step down

“It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG,” Willie Walsh commented as he announced that he was stepping down from the role of chief executive officer (CEO) at International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. Walsh will leave the company on March 26 ahead of his planned retirement in June.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1961, Walsh began his aviation career at Aer Lingus in 1979 as a cadet pilot, aged 17. He became CEO of Aer Lingus in 2001 after progressively moving up the career ladder, earning the nickname “Slasher Walsh” after cutting 2,500 jobs and selling the company’s art collection but rescuing the near-bankrupt airline post 9/11, leading the airline back to record profits in 2004. A year later, Walsh moved on to be the CEO of British Airways, where he guided the airline through the global recession and secured the merger with Iberia that led to the creation of IAG in 2011.

Under his leadership, IAG expanded to incorporate Aer Lingus, Spain’s Vueling, and most recently Air Europa. 

“I am deeply respectful of what he has achieved as CEO of this Group, of his sense of fairness, his transparency and his capacity to integrate people regardless of nationalities or backgrounds,” says Antonio Vázquez, IAG chairman.

Luis Gallego, chief executive of Iberia, will succeed Walsh as CEO of IAG. Gallego started out in the airline industry in 1997 with Air Nostrum and was appointed CEO of Iberia in 2014. 

“Luis has been a core member of the team and has shown true leadership over the years and I have no doubt he will be a great CEO of IAG,” says Walsh.

Gallego commented: “It is an honour to lead this great company. It is an exciting time at IAG, and I am confident that we can build on the strong foundations created by Willie.”

The future of IAG could come with a few challenges as weaker demand is causing ticket prices to fall, forcing carriers to curb expansion plans this year. IAG will also have to manoeuvre Brexit, including the confirmation of how the company will meet EU ownership rules; while also dealing with regulatory issues concerning its Air Europa acquisition.

IAG noted that Luis Gallego’s successor at Iberia will be announced in due course.

Lilia
By Lilia January 17, 2020 15:28