British Airways chief quits in major shakeup

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read

Watch: British Airways CEO Alex Cruz steps down

British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz has quit the top job with immediate effect, to be replaced by Aer Lingus boss Sean Doyle.

BA and Aer Lingus owner International Airlines Group (IAG.L) head Luis Gallego said the decision comes as the company faced "the worst crisis in our industry."

This is Gallego’s first announcement since taking over from Willie Walsh.

He said Cruz had "worked tirelessly to modernise the airline" and that he had "led the airline through a particularly demanding period and has secured restructuring agreements with the vast majority of employees.

Gallego continued: “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.”

Cruz will become a non-executive chairman of BA.

Alex Cruz has resigned as CEO of British Airways. Photo: Geoff Caddick/WPA Pool/Getty Images
Alex Cruz has resigned as CEO of British Airways. Photo: Geoff Caddick/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Cruz became BA chairman and chief executive in April 2016, having come from a job as chief executive of Vueling from 2009 when it merged with Clickair, an airline he founded in 2006. He began his career at American Airlines where he worked for 10 years before undertaking various management consultancy roles in the airline and travel industry.

At Aer Lingus, Donal Moriarty, currently the airline’s chief corporate affairs officer, will become interim chief executive. A permanent appointment will be announced in due course.

Decisions at IAG come following a tumultuous six months for the airline industry. Faced with widespread lockdowns and global groundings, airlines have cut jobs and leaned heavily on government jobs schemes to survive.

READ MORE: British Airways owner set to raise £2.5bn as airline leaders warn 87,000 more jobs at risk

Of the moves, Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown said: “This is a sign that the new chief executive of IAG, Luis Gallego, is flexing his muscles and trying to demonstrate he’ll make the changes necessary to lead a sustained recovery for the airline group.

“Sean Doyle will have his work cut out to make immediate progress given that British Airways is facing the toughest challenge in its history as demand for international travel has plummeted and quarantine restrictions continue to constrain bookings.’’

IAG shares fell in early trade in London.

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