Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, the owners of British Airways, has finally retired after a turbulent career which saw a transformation of the aviation industry.
The Irish born businessman played a pivotal role in the restructuring of Britain’s main airline with an emphasis on consolidation and cost-cutting. It brought him many critics but he has finally left with the airline in good shape financially compared to most of its competitors.
But his greatest achievement was the creation of IAG which brought BA, Iberia, aer Lingus and other airlines under one umbrella.
Walsh delayed his departure because of the Covid pandemic which he described as “the worst crisis we have ever faced, far worse than 9/11 and the financial crash in 2008”.
His tenure saw the decline of Legacy airlines and the rise of heavily-financed Middle East airlines but BA has remained a powerful force particularly on the transatlantic routes.
He is replaced by Luis Gallego, the head of BA’s sister airline Iberia