In an unexpected announcement on Octobr 12th Alex Cruz, who became Chairman and Chief Executive of British Airways in 2016, is stepping down to be replaced by Sean Doyle, currently CEO of Aer Lingus, who previously spent 20 years at BA.

I have known Alex Cruz since he was CEO at Click Air, a low cost subsidiary of Iberia, which merged with Vueling, another low cost airline, where he subsequently also became CEO.

At that time, I came to know an energetic boss who led a dynamic, growing and profitable airline, held in high regard by his young team.

Move from Vueling to British Airways

Moving to British Airways, Cruz had a clear remit to bring his skills in low cost management to further improve the airline’s own efficiency as it faced not only growing low cost short haul competition, but emerging threats from long haul low cost airlines, such as Norwegian.

Some suggest that cost cutting was his only objective, but this neither matches reality nor recognises the achievements which he has delivered whilst at the airline.


There have certainly been difficulties over the past four years. Several IT failures hit the airline and a data breach compromised customer information. To blame Cruz for these is simply lazy. In part legacy systems, which arguably should have been upgraded or replaced years earlier, failed by chance on his watch. A data breach, whilst far from acceptable, is not unique to BA nor to other airlines or indeed other industries. Alex Cruz is highly tech savvy and interested in technology, if anything he was upping BA’s game in this arena and moving it more fully into the

“It’s going to be a very challenging winter for the whole European airline industry,” said Andrew Lobbenberg, an equities analyst at HSBC, who specializes in the transport industry. In China, Russia and to a lesser extent in the United States, large domestic markets are improving for the airline industry. But Europe’s market has been fractured by travel restrictions, he said.

Airlines that do more long-haul travel, including British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa, will also struggle. “For BA, corporate travel is incredibly important, and it’s vanished,” Mr. Lobbenberg said.

In May, Lufthansa received a German government bailout worth €9 billion, but last month said it would cut more than 22,000 jobs. Short-haul carrier easyJet said last week that it would report its first ever annual loss and planned to fly only a quarter of its normal capacity in the last three months of 2020. Virgin Atlantic laid off almost half of its staff even after it devised a £1.2 billion private rescue deal.

Mr. Cruz, who previously led Vueling, a low-cost Spanish airline controlled by IAG, had run-ins with organized labor as the British Airways chief. The job cuts announced this summer prompted the labor union Unite to accuse the airline of “betrayal” and trying to fire cabin crew and then rehire them on worse terms in new contracts. In response, the airline said it wouldn’t issue new contracts, but instead make amendments to existing contracts.

The airline said that by the end of August, it had cut more than 8,000 jobs and had come to agreements with pilots, engineers and Heathrow Airport staff.

British Airways has had a contentious relationship with unions in the past. In September 2019, a pay dispute led pilots to go on strike for 48 hours, forcing the cancellation of thousands of flights.

In recent

Alex Cruz wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Alex Cruz is stepping down as the CEO of British Airways. Geoff Caddick - WPA Pool/Getty Images

© Geoff Caddick – WPA Pool/Getty Images
Alex Cruz is stepping down as the CEO of British Airways. Geoff Caddick – WPA Pool/Getty Images

  • British Airways boss Alex Cruz is stepping down, and will be replaced by Aer Lingus CEO Sean Doyle.
  • The owner of British Airways, International Airlines Group, said the airline industry was facing its worst crisis in history.
  • Cruz told a government committee in September that the airline was burning through £20 million ($25.9 million) a day and “fighting for its survival.”
  • It plans to cut 13,000 jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The CEO of British Airways, Alex Cruz, has stepped down, the airline’s parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) said Monday.


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Cruz, who was appointed chairman and chief executive of the flag-carrying airline in 2016, will be replaced by Sean Doyle, the CEO of Aer Lingus, the Dublin-based airline also owned by IAG.

BA’s new CEO Doyle worked for British Airways for 20 years in various roles including as director of network, fleet, and alliances, before becoming Aer Lingus’ chief executive in January 2019.

IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said British Airways was “navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry.”

The airline, which employs 42,000 people, announced plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs in April. This has since been increased to 13,000. 

Gallego thanked Cruz for working “tirelessly to modernize the airline,” adding that he has “has led the airline through a particularly demanding period.” 

Cruz told a government committee on September 16 that the coronavirus pandemic “has devastated our business, our sector, and we’re still fighting for our own survival,” adding that the company was burning through £20 million ($25.9 million) per day.

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