Willie Walsh to step down as chief executive of IAG, British Airways’ parent company

Jan 9, 2020

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Willie Walsh announced on Thursday that he will step down from his role as Chief Executive Officer of International Airlines Group (IAG) — one of the largest airline groups in the world and the owner of British Airways and Aer Lingus, among others. Walsh will step down from his roles on the board and as CEO as of March 26 before fully retiring on June 30.

Iberia’s current Chief Executive Officer Luis Gallego will take over Walsh’s role when he retires in June. Gallego has been at the helm of Iberia, one of three of IAG’s Spanish airlines in addition to LEVEL and Vueling, since 2014. Gallego’s successor has yet to be announced.

Walsh helped to lead the integration between British Airways and Iberia to form IAG. Since then, the group has grown to become one of the leading airline groups in the world. It now owns British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling, LEVEL and Iberia. It is set to acquire the Madrid-based Air Europa when the deal finalises in the second-half of 2020.

FILE: Willie Walsh, chief executive officer of British Airways Plc, poses for a photograph at Waterside, the company's headquarters in Harmondsworth, U.K., on Monday, Aug.16, 2010. IAG SA Chief Executive Officer Walsh is to retire after 15 years in charge of the airline group and predecessor British Airways, to be replaced by Luis Gallego, currently head of the groups Spanish Iberia arm. Walsh, 58, will stand down from the CEO role and the IAG board on March 26 and formally retire at the end of June, IAG said in a statement Thursday. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photo by Jason Alden/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Walsh started out as an Aer Lingus cadet pilot in 1979. He then worked his way up through various roles, including time as CEO of Aer Lingus (2001-2005) and British Airways (2005-2011) before taking the lead at IAG in 2011 following the merger of British Airways and Iberia.

“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”.

Walsh announced in October that he would step down within two years.

Featured photo courtesy of Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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