British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has been replaced after serving as CEO for only 4 1/2 years. International Consolidated Airlines Group, which is BA’s parent company said today that Sean Doyle, previously the boss of Irish airline Aer Lingus, will be the new BA CEO. Cruz became CEO of BA boss in 2016. He will stay on as its non-executive chairman for a transition period, IAG said.
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Cruz faced serious hostility from trade unions as he was tasked with driving through 13,000 job cuts at BA. Luis Gallego who is the CEO of BA parent company IAG ICAG and Cruz previously worked together at Spanish airline Vueling, now also owned by IAG. Gallego, who had been boss of IAG airline Iberia, pipped Cruz to the IAG top job earlier this year, replacing Willie Walsh.
A number of high-profile blunders happened at BA under Cruz, including a data breach for which it was fined $230 million in 2019, and an IT failure in 2017 which left tens of thousands of passengers stranded, BA pilots trike for the first time, costing the airline more than 137 million euros. Earlier this year, Cruz told the House of Commons transport select committee that BA was “fighting for our own survival.’’
Donal Moriarty will serve as interim CEO at the Irish carrier Aer Lingus until a permanent replacement is announced.
He was born and grew up in Bilbao, in the Spanish province of Biscay. He studied engineering at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan from 1984–1988. He gained an MSc from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, studying there from 1988–1990. In 1993, he attended an executive education program at Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, while he was working for American Airlines.
He started with American Airlines, working for them in London for five years from 1990–1995. From 1995 to 2000, he worked for Sabre Corporation, a technological division of American Airlines. In summer 2006, he became the founding CEO of Clickair, a low-cost airline. This became part of Vueling in July 2009; Spain’s second-largest airline with 163 destinations.
He joined British Airways in 1998. In November 2015, he was hired by the CEO of International Airlines Group, Willie Walsh, as the next CEO and chairman of British Airways, to begin in April 2016. International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, also owns Vueling. He succeeded Keith Williams.
In 2016 he left 700 British Airways employees without jobs when he closed down the airline’s computer department. He then outsourced their computer systems to the Indian company Tata Consultancy Services, drawing negative comments from a trade unionist.
On the environmental impact of aviation, he said in August 2019 that British Airways and its competitors had to start “thinking about flying in different ways”.
In April 2020, during the global collapse in air travel brought along by the COVID-19 pandemic, he told British Airways’ staff that he had set out plans to make up to 12,000 of them redundant. Unite the Union decried the move as “heartless”, saying “To reject government support but then expect their own staff to pay the cost… is irresponsible, dangerous and destructive”.