British Airways parent IAG says CEO Willie Walsh to stay until September

British Airways' announcement fell short for some frequent fliers who expressed their disappointment online.
Scott Barbour

British Airways-owner IAG said that chief executive Willie Walsh would stay on until September to steer it through the coronavirus crisis, and that it was planning for flights to return to service in July.

Walsh had been planning to retire in March but would now leave on September 24, the group said, when Luis Gallego will succeed him. 

IAG said on Thursday that it was planning for flights to restart in July and that passenger capacity would be about 50% lower, adding that the return was subject to the easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted most flights, leaving airlines across the world battling to cut costs, shed jobs and shrink their operations to try to ride out a travel slump which is expected to last years.

IAG, which also owns Iberia and Vueling in Spain and Ireland's Aer Lingus, warned that passenger demand would not return to previous levels until 2023, and as such it would seek to defer deliveries of 68 aircraft.

That adds to steps it announced last week to try to cope with the crisis, when it said that it would seek to cut up to 12,000 jobs, or over a quarter of staff at its biggest airline British Airways.

The group also said on Thursday that it had 10 billion euros  ($10.8 billion) of liquidity available to it at the end of April, making it one of the financially strongest airlines in Europe.

"Group-wide restructuring is essential in order to get through the crisis and preserve an adequate level of liquidity. We intend to come out of the crisis as a stronger group," Walsh said in a statement.