Sean Doyle, CEO of Irish airline Aer Lingus, also owned by IAG, will become chief executive of British Airways with immediate effect and will also take over from Cruz as president after a transition period, IAG (ICAGY) he said in a statement Monday. Doyle worked at British Airways for two decades before moving to head of Aer Lingus nearly two years ago.
Donal Moriarty, Aer Lingus’ chief corporate affairs officer, will become interim CEO while a permanent replacement will be found, IAG said. Its shares fell as much as 2% in London on Monday, before reducing some losses.
Major airlines, including British Airways, have cut thousands of jobs and shrunk their fleets in the expectation that international air travel will not resume to the level it was before the pandemic until at least 2024. Low-cost airline EasyJet (ESYJY)said last week that it expects to suffer the first annual loss in its 25-year history.
“Sean Doyle will have his work cut out to make immediate progress as British Airways is facing the toughest challenge in its history as demand for international travel has plummeted and quarantine restrictions continue to limit bookings,” Susannah Streeter, Senior market analyst Hargreaves Lansdown said Monday in a research note.
British Airways warned in April that it may have to cut up to 12,000 jobs, but has since said around 10,000 employees – or more than a fifth of its workforce – will leave the airline, most through voluntary layoffs. The carrier is retiring its entire fleet of Boeing 747s four years ahead of schedule. Last month, IAG shareholders, including Qatar Airways, approved a $ 3.3 billion capital increase to help the group weather the storm.
“We are facing the worst crisis faced in our industry and I am confident that these internal promotions will ensure IAG is well placed to emerge in a position of strength,” said IAG CEO Luis Gallego on Monday.
Gallego thanked Cruz for working “tirelessly to modernize” IAG’s flag carrier. “He led the airline through a particularly busy period and secured restructuring deals with the vast majority of employees,” he added. Cruz, who began his career in American Airlines (AAL), became CEO of British Airways in April 2016.