Willie Walsh to retire from British Airways' parent company IAG

Ex-BA boss who oversaw merger with Iberia is to step down at the end of June

FILE PHOTO: Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group speaks during the closing press briefing at the 2016 International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Dublin, Ireland June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
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International Airlines Group's chief executive, Willie Walsh, is set to retire this year.

Mr Walsh, the former British Airways chief executive who was instrumental in the creation of IAG through the merger of the UK's flag-carrier with Spain's Iberia in 2010, will stand down from the board on March 26. He will then retire as chief executive on June 30, the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange, where its shares trade. He will be succeeded by Luis Gallego, the current chief executive of Iberia.

"Under Willie's leadership IAG has become one of the leading global airline groups," said the company's chairman, Antonio Vazquez.

"Willie has been the main driver of this unique idea that is IAG. I am deeply respectful of what he has achieved as CEO of this group, of his sense of fairness, his transparency and his capacity to integrate people regardless of nationalities or backgrounds."

Mr Vazquez added that his successor, Mr Gallego, led a "proud transformation" of Iberia since being appointed as its chief executive in 2014.

Alongside BA and Iberia, IAG owns Irish airline Aer Lingus, European low-cost company Veuling and a fledgling budget, long-haul brand known as Level.

The company reported a 28 per cent decline in net profit to €1.8 billion in the first nine months of 2019, as revenue increased by 5.7 per cent to €19.4bn, with Mr Walsh citing "good underlying results" hampered by industrial action by pilots' union BALPA.

"It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG," Mr Walsh said. "I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG. Luis has been a core member of the team and has shown true leadership over the years and I have no doubt he will be a great CEO of IAG."