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The first British Airways Boeing 787-10 arriving at London Heathrow Airport (Photo: Graham Dinsdale)

British Airways Chief Alex Cruz Steps Down

British Airways has announced its chief executive Alex Cruz has stepped down from his role with immediate effect, bringing an end to a four-year spell at the top of the British flag carrier. The announcement will bring smiles to many within the airline and to many of its frequent flyers after what has been a disastrous spell for the Spaniard.

The new boss of International Airlines Group (IAG) Luis Gallego has installed the boss of fellow IAG airline Aer Lingus, Sean Doyle, to take over from Mr. Cruz.

Fernando Candela, the CEO of LEVEL, will join the management committee of IAG assuming the new position of director of the transformation.

At Aer Lingus, Donal Moriarty, currently the airline’s director of corporate affairs, will become interim CEO.

In announcing these changes, Luis Gallego, CEO of IAG said in a statement, “IAG has proven to be one of the world’s leading airline groups with a portfolio of successful companies. We are going through the worst crisis facing our industry and I am confident that these internal promotions will ensure that IAG is well-positioned to emerge in a position of strength.”

“I want to thank Alex for all that he has done at British Airways. He worked tirelessly to modernize the airline in the years leading up to its centennial celebration. Since then, he has led the company through a particularly demanding period and has reached restructuring agreements. with the vast majority of its employees. ”

“Sean Doyle has extensive experience with British Airways, having worked there for 20 years before coming to run Aer Lingus almost two years ago, where he has done an excellent job. I’m sure it will continue to do so at British Airways. ”

“Fernando Candela, who has more than 25 years of experience in the airline industry and has done an excellent job at both Iberia Express and LEVEL, joins our management committee assuming the new position of director of the transformation. Fernando will coordinate the change throughout the Group, focusing on creating a company suitable for a different future and prepared to take advantage of new opportunities. In the short term, he will also remain CEO of LEVEL until his replacement is appointed,” Gallego added.

Alex Cruz took over as Chairman and CEO of British Airways in April 2016. Previously, he was CEO of Vueling since 2009 when the airline merged with Clickair, a company Cruz founded in 2006. He began his professional career at American Airlines, where he worked for 10 years before holding various management consulting positions in the airline and travel industry.

The role of CEO for two low-cost carriers previously saw the new boss at the helm of a national legacy airline with numerous ways to help boost the profitability of the flag carrier.

In his first year, the boss of BA oversaw the removal of more than 700 British Airways employees after closing down the airline IT department and outsourced the jobs to Mumbai-based company Tata Consultancy Services.

This change was largely blamed for the IT system failure a year later which saw the entire fleet of British Airways grounded for two days as well as a large data breach in 2018 which saw personal and financial details of almost 500,000 customers using British Airways being compromised. The breach saw the airline fined 183 million pounds ($238 million).

The introduction of “buy on board” in 2017 on all short-haul operations was met with a large backlash from frequent flyers across the U.K. and Europe, calling British Airways a low-cost carrier and copying the business model of easyJet and Ryanair.

At the time, Mr Cruz attempted to spin the changes by saying, “We know our customers expect a great experience with British Airways. They’ve told us we are experts in flying and service, but when it comes to catering on short-haul flights, they want to choose from a wider range of premium products. Like British Airways, Marks & Spencer is a well-known, premium British brand that is respected and trusted, so it’s an ideal partnership, providing our customers with a choice of products they recognize and value.”

Recently, however, the outgoing CEO oversaw the loss of thousands of jobs across the airline as it battles the financial implications caused by this year’s coronavirus and faced heavy criticism from politicians and media outlets for threatening to “fire & hire” current employees on legacy contracts should they not accept drastic pay cuts.

Sean Doyle joined British Airways in 1998 in various financial, strategic, commercial and alliance roles for the airline, culminating in 2016 with his appointment to the company’s management committee as director of network, fleet and alliances. Originally from Cork, Ireland, he took over as CEO of Aer Lingus in January 2019.

Fernando Candela assumed the position of CEO of LEVEL in September 2019. Previously, he was CEO of Iberia Express for six years and previously director of planning and management control at Air Nostrum.

Donal Moriarty assumed the position of Director of Corporate Affairs for Aer Lingus in November 2017. He is a lawyer and joined the airline in 2009 as Secretary to the Company’s Board of Directors.

Pablo Diaz
Pablo Diaz
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