International Airlines Group (IAG) has announced a major reshuffle of its top-level management, including the news that Alex Cruz will step down as chairman and chief executive of British Airways.
Cruz has been both CEO and chairman of British Airways since April 2016, when he was moved from his former position as chief executive of IAG’s Barcelona-based low-cost airline Vueling.
Sean Doyle, current CEO of Irish carrier Aer Lingus – also owned by IAG – has been announced as the new chief executive for British Airways with immediate effect, and will also take over from Cruz as chairman, following a transitional period.
Doyle had previously served at British Airways for over two decades before moving to the top position at Aer Lingus in 2018.
Throughout his tenure at Aer Lingus, Doyle made the Irish carrier IAG’s most profitable airline, and invested heavily in customer satisfaction.
Aer Lingus chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty is set to take on the role of interim CEO while an appropriate replacement is found, according to IAG.
The major leadership reshuffle comes as IAG continues to battle through the worst aviation crisis in recent history.
British Airways has been forced to lay off over 13,000 employees and consolidate its fleet, working under the assumption that air travel demand will not recover until at least 2024, as per IATA guidance.
Most recently, the British flag-carrier said goodbye to its final Boeing 747s, retiring the entire fleet four years ahead of schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, IAG’s shareholders, including Qatar Airways, approved a $3.3 billion capital raise to help the group weather the storm.
“We’re navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry and I’m confident these internal promotions will ensure IAG is well placed to emerge in a strong position,” IAG CEO Luis Gallego said in a statement on Monday.
Gallego thanked Cruz for his efforts, noting his “tireless” work “to modernise the airline”.
“Since then, he has led the airline through a particularly demanding period and has secured restructuring agreements with the vast majority of employees,” Gallego added.
The IAG chief also welcomed Doyle into his new role, noting his “extensive experience” at the UK airline.
“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.”