Chief executive of International Airlines Group [IAG], Willie Walsh, has announced that he will step down from the board in March and retire on June 30 this year.
IAG owns a number of airlines including British Airways, Aer Lingus and Vueling.
Walsh was instrumental in overseeing the foundation of the IAG company, which came about from a merger between British Airways, of which he became boss in 2005, and Iberia.
Walsh said during the announcement that having the opportunity to work on the merger had been a ‘privilege’, while group chairman Antonio Vázquez added that Walsh had been one of the “main drivers” of the IAG project.
Walsh said: “It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG. I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG.”
Walsh will be succeeded by Luis Gallego, who has headed Iberia since 2014.
Gallego said: "It is a huge honour to lead this great company. It is an exciting time at IAG and I am confident that we can build on the strong foundations created by Willie."
Walsh’s retirement will see the end to both a 15-year association with the group and a career in the aviation industry that has spanned from 1979, when he was first recruited by Aer Lingus as a cadet pilot. He was elevated to chief operating officer before becoming Aer Lingus' chief executive in 2001, joining British Airways four years later.