IAG’s long-serving boss Willie Walsh to retire later in 2020
Mr Walsh will be succeeded at the British Airways owner by Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego.
International Airlines Group’s long-serving chief executive Willie Walsh has revealed plans to retire from the British Airways owner after a 15-year career with the group.
Mr Walsh – who orchestrated the creation of International Airlines Group (IAG) through the merger of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia – will step down from the role and board of IAG on March 26 and retire on June 30.
He will be succeeded by Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego.
It comes after Mr Walsh – a former pilot and chief executive of Ireland’s Aer Lingus – said last November he would step down within two years.
Mr Walsh said: “It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG.
“I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG.”
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 Antonio Vazquez, IAG chairman
He added: “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.”
Mr Walsh became chief executive of British Airways in 2005 and then led its merger with Iberia in 2011.
IAG chairman Antonio Vazquez said: “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.”
He praised Mr Walsh’s “strong leadership and clear vision”.
“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,” added Mr Vazquez.
Mr Gallego also has a long career in the airline industry under his belt, having started with Air Nostrum in 1997 and heading Iberia since 2014.
Mr Vazquez said the Iberia boss had led a “profound transformation” at the airline over his time in charge.
On his upcoming role at IAG, Mr Gallego said: “It is a huge 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.”
James Goodall, airlines analyst at Redburn, said Mr Walsh’s retirement was no surprise given the plans he outlined last November, but has “come slightly earlier than we expected”.
He added: “IAG has good succession planning in place and we see the promotion of Luis Gallego to group chief executive as a good option.
“Luis has an exceptional track record, turning around Iberia over the past five years.”