Willie Walsh has announced that he is retiring as chief executive officer (CEO) of International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways.
Willie Walsh announced that he will be retiring as CEO and from the board of International Airlines Group (IAG) on June 30. While his retirement will be in June this year, he will step down from the role in March.
According to Walsh, it had been a privilege to have worked on the creation of IAG after the merger of British Airways (BA) and Iberia. IAG chairman Antonio Vazquez described Mr Walsh as one of the “main drivers” of the project.
Walsh started his career in the aviation industry in the late 1970s as a cadet pilot at Aer Lingus. He worked his way up through the hierarchy in flight operations and was eventually appointed as chief executive of Aer Lingus in 2001.
He became CEO of British Airways in 2005 and will retire from the IAG group, which also owns Aer Lingus and Vueling, after 15 years.
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.”
Walsh will be replaced by Luis Gallego, who has served as head of the group’s Spanish division, Iberia, since 2014. Gallego said: “It is a huge honor 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.”
Feud with Virgin Atlantic
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have one of the aviation industry’s best-known feuds.
In the past, Walsh claimed that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic brand could disappear after Delta Airlines purchased a 49% stake in the company.
Gallego is unlikely to continue this feud with Virgin.