British Airways former CEO, Alex Cruz. Photo: British Airways.

MIAMI – The International Aviation Group has announced that Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways (BA) has decided with immediate effect to step down as chief executive. 

In his place, Aer Lingus (EI) chairman and chief executive Sean Doyle will replace Cruz. While Cruz retains the position of chairman of BA, that role will be taken over by Doyle after a period of transition. Cruz joined BA as chief executive in 2016 after decades of working as an airline executive for Vueling (VY) and American Airlines (AA). 

The International Aviation Group, the owner of EI, BA, among other European airlines, made the announcement as the airline reaches a pivotal point in its struggle with COVID-19’s implications on the aviation industry. 

During this particularly difficult time of COVID-19, BA, like many airlines, has faced financial hardship. In order to navigate the challenges, Cruz announced that BA would be cutting upwards of 12,000 jobs. 

Along with that announcement, Cruz said that the principal British airline would not be taking any additional funds from the British government, stating that the taxpayers should not be responsible for offsetting the salaries of employees. At that point, 22,600 of BA’s 42,000 staff had been on the British government’s furlough plan.

Cruz faced significant backlash from unions and the public. The scrutiny evolved into a political and social movement, the “BA Betrayal Campaign”

Fernando Candela, the chief executive of LEVEL, another IAG member, will be moved to a management position at IAG as chief transformation officer. In addition, Donal Moriarty, EI’ current chief corporate affairs officer, will be interim chief executive at Aer Lingus while a permanent chief executive is decided upon.

Members of IAG| Photo: British Airways

IAG Chief Executive Comments

In the press release announcing Cruz’s departure, International Aviation Group CEO Luis Gallego said, “IAG has proved itself to be one of the world’s leading airline groups with a portfolio of successful companies. 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.”

He continued, “I want to thank Alex for all that he has done at British Airways. He worked tirelessly to modernise the airline in the years leading up to the celebration of its 100th anniversary. 

“Since then, he has led the airline through a particularly demanding period and has secured restructuring agreements with the vast majority of employees.”

Photo: Aaron Davis

Significant Shakeups at British Airways

Along with the critical changes that the COVID-19 has presented, BA has seen lots of changes to its leadership and company structure. 

In September, Willie Walsh, the longtime CEO of the International Aviation Group retired after delaying his retirement in order to help the airline group through the COVID-19 crisis.

This, however, was not the only major change for British Airways in recent months. In order to help weather the downturn of demand due to COVID-19, the airline retired its entire fleet of flagship Boeing 747 aircraft.

Photo: British Airways