IAG CEO Willie Walsh to depart

IAG CEO and chair Willie Walsh is to retire from his role after a distinguished 41 years in the airlines industry.

Walsh will stand down from the role and the board of IAG (International Airlines Group) in March and will retire officially on 30 June.

The Irishman led the merger and integration of British Airways and Iberia, the flag airline carriers of the UK and Spain respectively. IAG also owns Ireland’s flagship airline, Aer Lingus, having acquired it from the Irish Government in 2015.

“Willie has led the merger and successful integration of British Airways and Iberia to form IAG. Under Willie’s leadership IAG has become one of the leading global airline groups”

IAG is the sixth-largest airline company in t he world with revenues of $24bn in 2018.

A 41-year aviation career

Walsh joined Aer Lingus in 1970 as a cadet pilot and became CEO of Aer Lingus in the aftermath of 9-11. He became chief executive of British Airways in October 2005 and then became IAG CEO in 2011.

Antonio Vázquez, IAG chairman, said: “Willie has led the merger and successful integration of British Airways and Iberia to form IAG. Under Willie’s leadership IAG has become one of the leading global airline groups.

“Willie has been the main driver of this unique idea that is IAG. I hugely admire his commitment, strong leadership and clear vision, always ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead of him. 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.

“Willie has established a strong management team and I am delighted that Luis will be promoted from this team to succeed Willie as CEO. Luis started his career in the airline industry in 1997 with Air Nostrum and, since 2014, he has been CEO of Iberia where he has led a profound transformation of this airline. The Board is confident that Luis is the right person to lead IAG in the next stage of its development and we look forward to working closely with Luis in his new role.”

Luis Gallego, currently Iberia chief executive, will succeed Walsh and his successor at Iberia will be announced in due course.

“It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG,” Walsh said. “ I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG. 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“.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 9 January, 2020