Sean Doyle, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Aer Lingus, is to become the new Chief Executive of British Airways. Luis Gallego, the new Chief Executive of IAG, which owns Aer Lingus and British Airways, has announced that BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz is to step down from the role, but will remain on as the airline’s non-executive Chairman.
Donal Moriarty, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Aer Lingus, will become the airline’s Interim Chief Executive. A permanent appointment will be announced in due course.
Sean Doyle worked at British Airways for 20 years before moving to head Aer Lingus nearly two years ago. He will also take over the BA chairman role after a transition period. Fernando Candela, Level’s Chief Executive, is joining the group’s management committee in a new role of Chief Transformation Officer.
“IAG has proved itself to be one of the world’s leading airline groups with a portfolio of successful companies,” said Luis Gallego. “We are navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry and I am confident that these internal promotions will ensure IAG is well placed to emerge in a strong position.”
Sean Doyle faces a huge challenge at BA, which like all airlines, is struggling due to low levels of flying during the pandemic. Last month IAG raised €2.74 billion to reduce its debt and help it survive the pandemic. The last few months have been tough for Alex Cruz who was tasked with driving through 13,000 job cuts at BA, making him a frequent target of trade union hostility.
Luis Gallego, who had been boss of IAG airline Iberia, replaced Willie Walsh earlier this year. Gallego and Cruz previously worked together at Spanish airline Vueling, also owned by IAG.
Analysts suggested that a number of high-profile mistakes at British Airways under Cruz, including a data breach for which it was fined US$230 million in 2019, and an IT failure in 2017 that left tens of thousands of passengers stranded, would not have helped his cause. He was also at the helm last year when BA pilots went on strike for the first time, costing the airline more than €137 million.