British Airways and Iberia owner's CEO Willie Walsh to step down

British Airways and Iberia owner's CEO Willie Walsh to step down

The chief executive of International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, Mr Willie Walsh has announced his retirement plans. He will step down from his role on 26th March and retire on 30th June 2020. His position will be taken by the Iberia chief executive, Luis Gallego Martin which was also announced by the company. Luis Gallego that this time is exciting at the International Airlines Group, and that he feels confident that the company can build up on the solid foundations created by Willie Walsh.

Last year, British Airways had encountered one of the most destructive industrial disputes in its history, that involved strikes for two days by pilots in September 2019 and the cancellations of 2,325 flights in same year, which bled the carrier £121 million.

Antonio Vazquez who is the chairman of International Airlines Group stated that “Willie has guided in successful integration of British Airways and Iberia to constitute International Airlines Group. He further said that under Willie’s leadership, IAG Group turned out to be one of the successful international airline groups. Now, the one of the major tasks of Willie’s successor is that to push through International Airlines Group’s €1 billion purchase of Spanish airline and Air Europa which has invited the regulator’s ire on anti-competition considerations.

History of Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh completed his Master’s degree from Trinity College Dublin. He was a pilot in Aer Lingus at the age of 17. He further joined Aer Lingus in numerous positions which included that of chief executive of Futura, the affiliate company from the year 1998 to the year 2000. He then re-joined as Chief Operating Officer at Aer Lingus after returning. In the year 2001, Willie Walsh was promoted from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer when he reduced around 2,000 positions in the company. He reorganised Aer Lingus as a low-cost airline akin to Ryanair and started withdrawal of many services like cargo and short-haul Business Class.

Mr Willie Walsh was appointed by British Airlines in the year 2005 with a 6-month transition period to understand the ways of working of that industry. However, before joining the British Airways, he had worked for a brief stint at Virgin Atlantic.

During the initial period at British Airways, he faced many challenges for example, a recession as well as enhanced competition from premium carriers internationally, budget carriers in Europe and surge in taxes & oil prices. While working with British Airways, the magazine, Aviation Week & Space Technology, recognized Willie Walsh as Laureate for commercial aviation services in 2014. Mr Willie Walsh was responsible for merger of Iberia and British Airways which ultimately helped to form a new holding company International Airlines Group. He was also a part of team for creating Joint business agreement with American Airlines and Iberia, which implied that all three companies would be sharing seats and revenue on trans-Atlantic routes.

Mr Willie Walsh helped to reduce British Airway’s dependence on the United Kingdom Market and restricted the power of labour unions. He removed some of the legacy expenses from British airline’s time before its privatisation. An agreement to facilitate airline’s final salary pension scheme, which was a part of a plan to eliminate its £2.8 billion deficit, was ultimately finalised in December 2017. Notably, he also restored the airline to profitability. In 2018, British Airlines made €2.3 billion from group operating profits, before extraordinary, of €3.23 billion.

History of Luis Gallego Martin

The Luis Gallego Martín joined Iberia and took the responsibility as CEO in March 2013 where he is currently serving as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2014. After his appointment, he has been working on a transition plan to restore profitability and sustainability of the Spanish airline, as well as to enhance Iberia’s productivity and client assistance services.

From the year 2006 to the year 2009, Luis was one of the founders the budget airline Clickair. Clickair was the fastest expanding European airline till it merged with Vueling. At the regional Spanish carrier Air Nostrum, he assumed numerous positions between the year of 1997 and 2006. He began his career at BDE, an engineering and services company.

In past, he introduced Iberia Express where he was chief executive from the year 2012. Also, when Luis was a chief operating officer at Vueling from 2009, the carrier had developed to be one of the extremely effective and punctual airlines in Europe. He was accountable for quality & safety, flight procedures, training and maintenance as well as ground processing procedures with more than 1,600 employees and 47 aircrafts.

Overview of International Consolidated Airlines Group

The International Consolidated Airlines Group (International Airlines Group) (LON: IAG) is one of the world's biggest airline federations carrying around 113 million travellers every year with 573 aircraft flying to 268 destinations. The company is listed on the and Spanish Stock Exchanges and London Stock Exchange. Since 2011, the company has increased its presence internationally with the vision to maximizing workable value creation for company partners and customers. The business models are perfectly primed up to achieve this in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive environment.

IAG – Share Price Performance

At the time of writing, On 10th January 2020 as at 11:23 AM GMT, the share price of IAG was trading at GBX 663.92 per share on the London Stock Exchange, an incline of 4.62 per cent or GBX 29.32 per share, versus previous day’s closing price of GBX 634.60 per share.

The IAG share price of GBX 668.20 was the 52-week peak price as on 10th January 2020, whereas the share price of GBX 411.50 was the 52-week low share price as on 16th August 2019. The current share price was lower by 0.64 per cent from the 52-week high price, whereas it was higher by 61.34 per cent from the 52-week low price.

The company’s market capitalisation was recounted at £12,592.56 million at the time of writing. The free float and share outstanding of the IAG were reported at £1.98 billion and £1.55 billion.

While writing, the beta of the IAG share was stated at 0.71, which shows low volatility as compared to the benchmark market index’s movement.

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