Sean Doyle Appointed Chief Executive Of British Airways

Sean Doyle has replaced Alex Cruz as Chief Executive Of British Airways with immediate effect.

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Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, Aer Lingus
Sean Doyle, Chief Executive, British Airways (Image Credit: Aer Lingus)

Sean Doyle has replaced Alex Cruz as Chief Executive of British Airways with immediate effect.

Sean was Chief Executive of BA’s fellow IAG subsidiary Aer Lingus. He knows BA very well, having previously held a number of senior management roles at the airline, including director, network, fleet and alliances.

Alex will remain non-Executive Chairman of BA for an interim period. These changes were announced today, Monday 12 October 2020, by new IAG CEO Luis Gallego who recently replaced founding IAG CEO Willie Walsh.

Alex has held the role of Chief Executive and Chairman of BA since April 2016, having previously been CEO of fellow IAG subsidiary Vueling.

There have been turbulent times during Alex’s tenure (though you could say that of almost every BA Chief Executive), notably the high profile IT power failure of 2017, the theft of customer data from ba.com in 2018 and an an industrial dispute with BA pilots which overshadowed the airline’s centenary celebrations in 2019 and public criticism over the planned restructuring of the airline post COVID-19.

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz Media Appearances Friday 7 September 2018
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz Media Appearances Friday 7 September 2018 (Image Credit: BBC, CNN, ITV News)

On a more positive note, Alex oversaw the introduction of BA’s new “Club Suite” long-haul business class cabin, pre COVID-19 improvements to catering in premium cabins and the roll-out of a new lounge concept around the world. There is often a misguided view that when BA CEOs make unpopular decisions, any other CEO would act differently.

Many will speculate as to the reasons for Alex’s departure. It’s not unusual for a new CEO to make management charges. IAG do also like to move executives around the group. The fact that Alex is leaving immediately and has not moved to an alternative role in IAG suggests it was not voluntary. It was clear from Alex’s very well rehearsed recent appearance before the Transport Select Committee that it had been stung by criticism by MPs over the airline’s restructuring.

Sean Doyle has a full in-tray. In the coming months he will make decisions around BA’s fleet plans, route network and airline partnerships that will shape the future of the airline for the rest of the decade as it seeks to recover from COVID-19. Like his predecessors, Sean will have to make unpopular decisions that will put him under considerable public scrutiny.

The next major update from IAG is likely when it presents its third quarter results on Friday 30 October 2020.

IAG has issued the following statement:

International Airlines Group (IAG) is today announcing changes to its senior management team with immediate effect.  

·    Alex Cruz, British Airways chairman and chief executive, is to step down as chief executive and remain the airline’s non-executive chairman.

·    Sean Doyle, Aer Lingus chairman and chief executive, will become the new chief executive of British Airways and take over as chairman after a transition period.

·    Fernando Candela, LEVEL chief executive, is joining the Group’s management committee in a new role of chief transformation officer.

·    At Aer Lingus, Donal Moriarty, currently the airline’s chief corporate affairs officer, will become interim chief executive. A permanent appointment will be announced in due course.

Announcing the changes, IAG chief executive, 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.

 “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.

 “Sean Doyle has extensive experience at British Airways having worked there for 20 years before moving to head Aer Lingus nearly two years ago where he has done an excellent job. I am confident that will continue at British Airways. 

 “Fernando Candela, who has more than 25 years of experience in aviation and excelled at both Iberia Express and LEVEL, joins our management committee in the new chief transformation officer role. He will coordinate change across the Group, focusing on creating a company fit for a different future and ready to take advantage of new opportunities. In the short term, he will also remain chief executive of LEVEL until a replacement is appointed.

“As our new team comes together, we remain focused on making the right operational and strategic decisions for the long-term benefit of all IAG’s stakeholders”.

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