Willie Walsh postpones retirement to help deal with fallout from COVID-19

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh has confirmed that, for the foreseeable future, he will remain at the helm of IAG as its Group chief executive, while his successor-in-waiting, Luis Gallego, will remain in charge as CEO at Iberia. IAG, headquartered at London Heathrow, comprises a number of subsidiary airlines, including Aer Lingus and Aer Lingus Regional, British Airways, Iberia and Iberia Express, LEVEL, and Vueling.

Antonio Vázquez, IAG´s chairman, said: “As we respond to COVID-19, Willie, Luis and the board of IAG have decided that management stability across the group should be a priority in the near term. We are grateful that Willie has agreed to delay his retirement for a short period at this challenging time.”

IAG has already canceled all flights to and from China and Italy, while also reducing capacity on Asian routes. Forecasts for the January-to-March quarter estimate a 7.9% drop in capacity, while for April and May the Group is projecting capacity in terms of available seat kilometres (asks) to fall by up to 75% of that for the same period in 2019.

As emergency cost-cutting measures, the group is grounding surplus aircraft, reducing and deferring capital spending, cutting non-essential and non-cyber related IT spend, and freezing recruitment and discretionary spending. In addition, voluntary leave options will be implemented, along with temporarily suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours.

Commenting on the situation, Walsh said: “We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer. We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules. We will continue to monitor demand levels and we have the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary.”

Email Post to a Friend Email Post to a Friend