British Airways'have now confirmed'the appointment of Willie Walsh as'their new chief executive officer. Walsh, who was previously CEO of Aer Lingus, begins as chief executive designate on May 3. Rod Eddington will retire from British Airways
at the end of September, at which stage Mr Walsh will become chief executive.
Martin Broughton, the airline's chairman, said: "Willie has an outstanding reputation in the airline industry around the world for the way in which he transformed the fortunes of Aer Lingus from a high-cost underperforming carrier into a successful and profitable entity.
"Many commentators have rightly said that Rod Eddington will be a hard act to follow but I am completely confident that in Willie we have captured the very best person for the job.
"Rod has performed miracles at British Airways and he will leave us with the best wishes of the board, the workforce and our shareholders. Rod has transformed our business beyond recognition through his determined focus to drive out costs whilst ensuring the airline never loses sight of the highest standards of customer service.
"Following the tragedies of 9/11 many commentators expected Aer Lingus to follow airlines such as Swissair and Sabena into oblivion but Willie salvaged the Irish carrier and saved thousands of jobs.
"Willie was determined that Aer Lingus had to provide what its customers demanded and that was a low price for an air ticket. At British Airways he will focus his efforts and energies on what our customer base demands which are quality service and value for money."
Rod Eddington said: "I am delighted that Willie has agreed to join British Airways and replace me as CEO and I look forward to working with him during our handover."
Willie Walsh said: "This is an outstanding opportunity to be at the helm of what many people see as the best airline in the world and I'm very excited at the prospect of joining the team."
Irish-born Willie Walsh, 43, joined Aer Lingus as a 17 year old cadet pilot in 1979 and worked through the ranks to become a captain in 1990.
He was appointed as CEO of Futura, Aer Lingus' charter airline in Spain in 1998. Willie returned to Dublin as Aer Lingus' chief operating officer in 2000 and became CEO in the aftermath of 9/11.
Married with one nine year old daughter, Willie has an MSc in management and business administration from Trinity College, Dublin which he undertook whilst working as a pilot for Aer Lingus.