International Airlines Group (IAG) has confirmed that Willie Walsh is to step down from his role as CEO this spring, ahead of his retirement at the end of June.

Walsh will be replaced by IAG member Iberia’s current CEO Luis Gallego from March 26 – Gallego’s successor at Iberia will be announced in due course.

Walsh was previously chief executive of Irish carrier Aer Lingus, before leaving to take the helm at British Airways, where he served as CEO from 2005 to 2010.

He oversaw the merger of British Airways and Iberia, before becoming CEO of IAG when it was formed in 2011.

IAG’s chairman Antonio Vazquez said that “Under Willie’s leadership IAG has become one of the leading global airline groups”.

“Willie has been the main driver of this unique idea that is IAG,” said Vazquez. “I hugely admire his commitment, strong leadership and clear vision, always ready to take on whatever challenges lay ahead of him. I am deeply respectful of what he has achieved as CEO of this Group, of his sense of fairness, his transparency and his capacity to integrate people regardless of nationalities or backgrounds.

“Willie has established a strong management team and I am delighted that Luis will be promoted from this team to succeed Willie as CEO. Luis started his career in the airline industry in 1997 with Air Nostrum and, since 2014, he has been CEO of Iberia where he has led a profound transformation of this airline. The Board is confident that Luis is the right person to lead IAG in the next stage of its development and we look forward to working closely with Luis in his new role”.

Commenting on his decision to retire Walsh said:

“It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG. I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG. Luis has been a core member of the team and has shown true leadership over the years and I have no doubt he will be a great CEO of IAG“.