IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh to Retire in June

Willie Walsh

Aer Lingus owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has said that Willie Walsh has made a decision to retire as chief executive.

Gallego, who started his career in the airline industry in 1997 with Air Nostrum and has been CEO of Iberia since 2014, said he was confident he could build on the strong foundations built by Walsh.

"IAG has good succession planning in place and we see the promotion of Luis Gallego as a good option", he added.

He was BA chief executive before overseeing its merger with Iberia in 2011, a deal that created an airline group which has since outperformed rivals Air France and Lufthansa, and sought to compete with budget disrupters Ryanair and easyJet. After advancing to a captain's position he was appointed as CEO of Spanish charter airline Futura in 1998 which he left again in 2000 to become the COO (Chief Operating Officer) at Aer Lingus.

IAG chairman Antonio Vazquez noted the company had become one of the world's leading airline groups under Walsh's leadership.

Willie Walsh has been CEO of IAG, which comprises Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and other airlines, since its formation in 2011.

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Walsh began his airline career as a cadet pilot at Aer Lingus in 1979.

"Willie Walsh leaving BA has been telegraphing very well, so the moderate rise in IAG stocks probably reflects better market sentiment", said London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler.

For 2019, British Airways numbers were 1.6% higher, Iberia up 7.2%, Aer Lingus up 2.4%, Level more than doubled, and vueling up 5.6%. "I hugely admire his commitment, strong leadership and clear vision, always ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead of him".

He will take over his new role on March 27th, and take full control over IAG once Willie Walsh has fully stepped down from his positions by June 30th.

"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 chief executive of IAG".

IAG shares rose after the announcement in early trading on Thursday morning, up 1.2% on the previous day.

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