British Airways boss Alex Cruz is to step down as chief executive with immediate effect as the company navigates the "worst crisis facing the industry" during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The International Airlines Group (IAG) today announced the changes to its senior management team.

Mr Cruz is to step down as chief executive, but will remain the airline’s non-executive chairman.

Sean Doyle, Aer Lingus chairman and chief executive, will become the new chief executive of British Airways and take over as chairman after a transition period.

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Announcing the changes, IAG chief executive, Luis Gallego, said: “IAG has proved itself to be one of the world’s leading airline groups with a portfolio of successful companies.

"We’re navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry and I’m confident these internal promotions will ensure IAG is well placed to emerge in a strong position.

"I want to thank Alex for all that he has done at British Airways.

"He worked tirelessly to modernise the airline in the years leading up to the celebration of its 100th anniversary.

"Since then, he has led the airline through a particularly demanding period and has secured restructuring agreements with the vast majority of employees.

“Sean Doyle has extensive experience at British Airways having worked there for 20 years before moving to head Aer Lingus nearly two years ago where he has done an excellent job. I am confident that will continue at British Airways.

“Fernando Candela, who has more than 25 years of experience in aviation and excelled at both Iberia Express and LEVEL, joins our management committee in the new chief transformation officer role.

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"He will coordinate change across the Group, focusing on creating a company fit for a different future and ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

"In the short term, he will also remain chief executive of LEVEL until a replacement is appointed.

“As our new team comes together, we remain focused on making the right operational and strategic decisions for the long-term benefit of all IAG’s stakeholders”.

Last month, Mr Cruz told MPs people are “still afraid of travelling”, as he defended the airline’s decision to cut up to 12,000 jobs.

He said the coronavirus pandemic had “devastated our business” and the carrier was “still fighting for our own survival”.

He said: “As CEO of British Airways, I have to take responsibility. I cannot ignore the situation. I had to act incredibly fast.

“I deeply, deeply regret that way too many loyal and hardworking colleagues of mine are having to leave our business, and I understand why MPs are concerned.”

In April, British Airways announced plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs, representing nearly 30% of its workforce.

Mr Cruz said he was “completely dedicated and focused” on protecting the remaining 30,000 jobs.

He went on: “People are still afraid of travelling.

“Of course, we are having weekly changes, as you know, to the quarantine list. We don’t have a testing solution yet. And still our customers are paying APD (air passenger duty) even just to fly on domestic regional flights.

“So the overall situation is quite challenging, and this is why we are taking every measure possible to make sure that we can actually make it through this winter.”

Mr Cruz also said British Airways was burning through an average of £20 million of cash per day.