The Spanish Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways since April 2016, will step down “with immediate effect”, reported on Monday the International Airlines Group (IAG), which emerged from the 2011 merger of this British airline and the Spanish Iberia.
Cruz, who for four and a half years has been CEO and president, will be replaced in the first position by Sean Doyle, hitherto number one of the Irish low-cost airline Aer Lingus – also a member of the group – and will retain the presidency with character non-executive for a transitional period.
IAG did not specify the reason for his resignation and a spokeswoman contacted by AFP declined to comment.
The group’s statement was limited to stating that it is “going through the worst crisis facing our industry” and that it hopes that these changes will allow it to be better “positioned to emerge in a position of strength.”
Cruz’s departure comes almost immediately after that of the man who put him in charge, Willie Walsh, replaced in September as IAG CEO by Spain’s Luis Gallego.
With the aim of “creating a company suitable for a different future”, Gallego also announced on Monday the appointment of Fernando Candela, former director of Iberia Express and Level, as the new “transformation director” of IAG.
Thanking him for having worked “tirelessly to modernize” British Airways, Gallego recalled that Cruz led this century-old company “in a particularly demanding period and has reached restructuring agreements with the vast majority of its employees.”
– Cut costs –
The Spanish-British conglomerate had a bad time at the end of last year due to a major labor dispute with British Airways pilots: an unprecedented strike in September 2019 forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and left thousands of passengers on the ground.
The conflict was closed with the signing of a salary agreement that cost the British company 137 million euros.
Subsequently, the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit international air transport hard as demand plummeted, prompted British Airways to announce the reduction of 13,000 jobs, about a third of its workforce.
For the pilots union BALPA, Cruz’s resignation did not come as a surprise since “he was in charge of cutting costs and it was impossible to do so without going against passengers and employees.”
Following the departures of Walsh and Cruz, the union said it hoped “a new era will see British Airways go back to being the proud company it had been.
In an appearance before the British parliament’s transport commission in September, Cruz had justified the drastic staff cuts by stating that “the covid has devastated our business, our sector.” “We are still fighting for our own survival,” he said.
Before becoming number one on British Airways, the Spaniard had been Vueling’s CEO since 2009, when it merged with Clickair, an airline he had founded in 2006.
Cruz began his career at American Airlines where he worked for 10 years before assuming various management consulting positions in the airline and travel industry.
acc / rev