CEO Willie Walsh delays retirement as Covid-19 plunges IAG into €1.68 billion quarterly loss

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Willie Walsh had been due to step down in June but will remain until September.

WILLIE WALSH IS delaying his retirement from International Airlines Group (IAG) for a number of months but will step down as CEO in September. 

In January it was confirmed that the Dubliner would retire from IAG, with an initial end date set for 30 June. As the Covid-19 crisis took hold in March, IAG announced that the retirement was being postponed. 

The group has now confirmed that Walsh will stay on in the position for the summer before he is replaced by Luis Gallego, the current chief executive of Iberia, on 24 September. 

“We are grateful that Willie delayed his retirement at this challenging time providing the airlines’ management with the necessary stability to focus on the immediate response to the crisis. We look forward to working closely with Luis in his new role,” the company said in a statement today. 

Walsh oversaw the creation of IAG with the merger of British Airways and Spanish national carrier Iberia in 2010, becoming chief executive of the resulting company.

IAG then bought out the Irish government’s stake in Aer Lingus in 2015 with Walsh the man who spearheaded the successful approach.

The update on Walsh’s position comes as IAG announced an operating pre-tax loss of €535 million for the first quarter of the year, due to coronavirus fallout. This contrasts with a slender net profit of €70 million for the same period last year. 

In financial results published this morning, the airline group said that statutory after-tax losses amounted to €1.68 billion. 

The after-tax loss for the three months to March contrasted with a slender net profit of €70 million for the same period last year. 

News of the sharp loss comes one week after IAG outlined plans to axe up to 12,000 BA staff, as it struggles to cope with evaporating demand for air travel.  

“The operating result up to the end of February was in line with a year ago. However, March’s performance was severely affected by government travel restrictions due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 which significantly impacted demand. Most of the loss in the quarter occurred in the last two weeks of March,” Walsh said in a financial statement. 

The statement also said that Aer Lingus’ capacity was: “broadly flat for January and February with increases in North Atlantic routes, from the route to Minneapolis launched in July 2019, and increased frequencies to Boston and San Francisco, offset by reductions in short-haul capacity”.

IAG is the owner of Aer Lingus.

IAG is the owner of Aer Lingus.

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