IAG’s Willie Walsh Confirms Retirement And Successor

In November, Simple Flying reported that IAG CEO Willie Walsh would be stepping down from his position. Today the airline group announced more details of Mr Walsh’s departure.

Willie Walsh, IAG, Retirement
Willie Walsh will retire at the end of June. Photo: StuBaileyPhoto via Wikimedia | Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Willie Walsh is a veteran of aviation. The former British Airways CEO moved to captain IAG when the British flag carrier merged with Iberia. However, now Mr Walsh has announced that he will step down as he looks towards retirement. As a result, the airline group today announced his departure date, in addition to his successor. Rather than replacing him with his British Airways successor, the new CEO of IAG will come from Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier.

Willie Walsh’s career

Willie Walsh could be described as a veteran of the aviation industry. The 58-year-old first entered the aviation industry at the age of just 17. His first role was with the Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus. This role saw him operating in the capacity of a cadet pilot.

He then went away to study for a Masters in business management and administration and rejoined Aer Lingus as it’s COO, prior to being made CEO in 2001. In mid-2005, Walsh became CEO of British Airways, stepping up to become the CEO of IAG when BA merged with Iberia.

Willie Walsh, IAG, Retirement
Willie Walsh has been IAG’s CEO since its inception. Photo: Tom Boon

IAG departure

Following nine years at the helm of IAG, Willie Walsh will be handing over the baton later this year. In November we reported that Walsh had been caught saying:

“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.”

Now, his departure has been confirmed by the airline group. According to Álvaro López-Jorrín, IAG’s Board Secretary, Mr Walsh will leave the board on 28th of March, with his retirement following on the 30th of June 2020.


Willie Walsh will be succeeded in his role by Luis Gallego, the current CEO of Iberia. Speaking of his new role, Gallego said:

“It has been a great pleasure to work with Willie over the last seven years. 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“

Luis Gallego, IAG, New CEO
Iberia’s CEO, Luis Gallego, beat British Airways CEO Alex Cruz to the top job. Photo: Getty Images

According to the airline group, Gallego founded the airline Clickair in 2006, and when it merged in 2009, he became CEO of another IAG airline, Vueling. In 2012 he moved from Vueling to Ibera, where he acted as CEO of Iberia Express from its launch. In 2014, he moved within the company to become the overall CEO of Iberia. IAG has yet to confirm who will take Gallego’s position as CEO of the Spanish flag carrier.

What do you make of Willie Walsh’s retirement? Is Luis Gallego the right replacement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!