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British Airways gets new CEO from Aer Lingus

BA fined 20 million pounds by ICO. Photo by Hannah McKay

Airlines group IAG ICAG.L named Aer Lingus boss Sean Doyle as the new chief executive of British Airways, replacing Alex Cruz in the top job, one of a number of management changes announced by IAG’s new chief executive after a month in the job.

Luis Gallego, who took over as IAG CEO in September as the company tries to survive the COVID-19 slump in travel, stamped his mark on IAG on Monday, by promoting former BA employee Doyle to head up the company’s biggest airline BA on Monday.

This is Gallego’s first major announcement  since leaving the top post at Aer Lingus and taking over from Willie Walsh as IAG chief.

“Sean Doyle has extensive experience at British Airways having worked there for 20 years before moving to head Aer Lingus nearly two years ago where he has done an excellent job. I am confident that will continue at British Airways,” Gallego said in a statement on Monday.

Cruz, a Spaniard, had been BA boss since 2016 and will stay on as its non-executive chairman for a transition period, IAG said in its statement. Cruz and Gallego had previously worked together at Spanish airline Vueling, now also owned by IAG.

The last few months of Cruz’s tenure have been tough, as he was tasked with driving through 12,000 job cuts at BA, making him a frequent target of trade union hostility.

The 54-year-old Cruz , started his career at American Airlines in London before joining British Airways in 1998. Willie Walsh made him CEO of BA in 2016 after which he launched a ruthless cost-cutting campaign, closing down and outsourcing the airline’s computer systems and bringing in efficiencies across the board that led to run-ins with unions.

IAG said that the CEO of another of its airlines, LEVEL, would take on the new role of group chief transformation officer, while it named Aer Lingus insider Donal Moriarty as interim CEO.

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