(Bloomberg) — British Airways Chief Executive Officer Alex Cruz is being replaced, just weeks after fellow Spaniard Luis Gallego took over as head of parent company IAG SA.



Alex Cruz wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Alex Cruz, chief executive officer of British Airways, looks on at the 20th anniversary of Oneworld airline alliance in London, UK, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Airbus SE hasn’t offered low enough prices to justify additional orders chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) Willie Walsh said at the alliance meeting.


© Bloomberg
Alex Cruz, chief executive officer of British Airways, looks on at the 20th anniversary of Oneworld airline alliance in London, UK, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Airbus SE hasn’t offered low enough prices to justify additional orders chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) Willie Walsh said at the alliance meeting.

Sean Doyle, who has been running Irish sister carrier Aer Lingus, will take over immediately as British Airways CEO, according to a statement Monday. Cruz, 54, will stay on as chairman of the U.K. airline for a transition period, before Doyle assumes that role as well.

Cruz is leaving after being passed over in January as replacement for the group’s chief, Willie Walsh, who retired as IAG head last month after 15 years in the job. The 54-year-old Cruz joined IAG when the London-based group bought out Vueling, the discount carrier he headed.

Initially seen as a likely successor to Walsh, Cruz was criticized for the extent of cost cuts and service changes during his four years at the helm. Pilots, former staff and customers suggested British Airways’ image as a premium carrier was being tarnished — even as Walsh kept up pressure for even deeper cutbacks.



Alex Cruz wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Alex Cruz, chief executive officer of British Airways, looks on at the 20th anniversary of Oneworld airline alliance in London, UK, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Airbus SE hasn’t offered low enough prices to justify additional orders chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) Willie Walsh said at the alliance meeting.


© Bloomberg
Alex Cruz, chief executive officer of British Airways, looks on at the 20th anniversary of Oneworld airline alliance in London, UK, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Airbus SE hasn’t offered low enough prices to justify additional orders chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) Willie Walsh said at the alliance meeting.

Union Clashes

This year, Cruz clashed with unions and politicians over plans to

Airline stocks are gaining on the FTSE 100 (^FTSE), with IAG (IAG.L) and Rolls-Royce (RR.L) among the leaders.

IAG shares were up as much as 11% on Thursday and Rolls-Royce had even more dramatic gains, up 22% at around 4:15pm in London.

“RR [Rolls-Royce] is set to post record gains for this week as investors are buying the stock as it is way too cheap, said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade. “As for the IAG, speculations are that there could be another support package for airlines as well just like the US.”

Markets have been buoyed in Asia and Europe as investor confidence grew overnight following renewed hopes for a US stimulus deal. US president Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he will resume talks after the election and further positive news came from House speaker Nancy Pelosi. She signalled that she was open to some form of partial measures, particularly for the airline industry.

READ MORE: Market pressure eases as US fiscal policy and a Democratic win appear in focus

“It’s partly just a short-term rebound as they’ve been so beaten down, but I think hints about a rescue package for US airlines have lifted the sector here, and also Rolls has been given a boost thanks to talk about British-made small nuclear reactors,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG. “Also I think we are seeing a pile-in to beaten down sectors as risk appetite recovers, short-term money looking for a quick rebound.”

The UK government could spend up to £2bn ($2.63bn) on a project to design and build mini-nuclear power stations as the industry suffers from major setbacks that could leave a hole in the national electricity supply.

The project to build 16 sites by 2050 could help the beleaguered Rolls-Royce business, which is