IAG Boss Willie Walsh To Retire Within Next Two Years

Willie Wash, the leader of IAG, has announced his intention to retire within the next two years. The former British Airways CEO went on to become the CEO of its owner and has spent 15 years with the carrier.

Willie Walsh, IAG, Retirement
Willie Walsh will stand down as the CEO of IAG within the next two years. Photo: StuBailey via Wikimedia | Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The International Airlines Group (IAG), was established eight years ago in 2011. Willie Walsh, who has come to be a well-known name within the aviation industry, became the CEO of the International Airlines group when it was founded in 2011. Mr Walsh has also spent time as the CEO of another IAG airline; Aer Lingus.

A bit about Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh was born in 1961 on the 25th of October. As such, the seasoned businessman is now 58 years old. Born in Dublin, Willie attended a local primary and secondary school. At the age of 17, he undertook his first endeavor into the aviation industry, becoming a cadet pilot with Aer Lingus.


With a Masters in business management and administration, Mr Walsh joined Aer Lingus once again as the company’s COO following some time in management at Futura. In 2001, he was promoted to the CEO of Aer Lingus.

Willie Walsh, IAG, Retirement
Mr Walsh’s early career was defined by Aer Lingus. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

While Aer Lingus was in financial difficulty, Mr Walsh turned the carrier around. However, after the Irish Government turned down a floatation of the airline, he resigned in 2005.

British Airways and IAG

In mid-2005, Walsh became CEO of British Airways where he remained until it merged with Iberia in January 2011 forming the International Airlines Group. Since then Mr Walsh has been behind the roles of one of the large European airline groups.


Upcoming retirement

However, it seems as though Willie Walsh is preparing his retirement from the aviation industry. According to the Evening Standard, Mr Walsh was caught saying the following:

“I’m 58 and I will not be in this job when I’m 60. I’ve been doing it for 15 years, and I’m much closer to retirement now than I was a year ago.”

Willie Walsh, IAG, Retirement
Earlier this year Willie Walsh spoke at a meeting of oneworld member airlines. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Following what must have been a tough couple of months for the airline group’s CEO, the search for a replacement will surely start before too long. The comments came as the IAG group announced that the strike of British Airways pilots in September had cost the airline group €137 million, 10% of the group’s pre-tax profit.

British Airways pilots went on strike for 48 hours in response to a disagreement about pay, however, further action since then has been suspended. It is unknown whether pilots will stage any further strike action at this moment in time. The airline’s pilots can strike up until January, however, 14 days notice is required prior to any action taking place.

Do you think Willie Walsh has been a good CEO for IAG? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


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Depends if you you are a shareholder, a passenger or a member of staff.


That’s clever of Willie: retire before he can catch any flak when the IAG MAXs start flying (if they ever fly)…


He’ll be gone just before the 737 MOU needs to be made a firm order and let the guy after him deal with it


He and his board have been very strict about achieving a 15% return on capital which is the highest in the industry – certainly in Europe. In that he has been successful. However, he has been rather conservative in expansion. He started the wrongly named and ineffective “Open Skies”. His only success has been taking over “Aer Lingus” – and that was most certainly because of his history with the airline and his Irish connections. On the other hand he has failed with others and they have slipped through his fingers, e.g. “Laudamotion”, “Norwegian”. In response he has set up… Read more »


I think you do not understand the strategy and what was the reason to form Level. You do not understand why IAG gave an offer for Laudamotion and Norvegian neither why the 15 ROIC was achieved. He bought Vueling and Aer Lingus and these both acquisitions already paid back what in aviation is very rare. He is conservative and this is very smart.
By the way. Today IAG announced purchase Air Europa which fits very well in IAG strategy and is well managed and profitable airline – not like Laudamotion or Norvegian.

Jon Page

I’m just impressed that he joined IAG in 2005, six years before it was formed…

Joanna Bailey

Thanks for that, it has been corrected


As has been noted earlier – good CEO? Depends if you’re a shareholder (yes), a customer (no) or an employee (no. I was going to say he wasn’t as bad as Cruz is for BA employees, but Walsh was the one who got crew to agree to a pay cut years ago to help keep BA alive – that they’re nowhere close to getting back).
Please don’t let Cruz anywhere near the IAG CEOs seat. He should have been canned from BA after the data breach.


Then he is a good CEO. employees neither the customers are his employers. Also he must be doing something right in order for the customers to keep coming back. Because if BA were that unbearable, I’m sure they’ll go elsewhere, even if it meant a connection.

Nigel James

I think that Willie Walsh will be remembered for his role at British Airways rather than IAG. Separating him out from IAG is not easy. Call us cynical if you like but many people believe he never really relinquished the BA CEO role despite putting in the fall guy, Alex Cruz. I think if you are a shareholder then you will probably like Walsh but if you were/are a customer then you will most likely have a very different view of him. Yes he has overseen a steady increase in profits which is surprising considering that in parallel, customer service… Read more »