International Airlines Group (IAG) has confirmed that Luis Gallego will take over as chief executive officer on September 24.

Current CEO Willie Walsh had been due to step down in March, ahead of a planned retirement in June, but this move was delayed as a result of Covid-19.

In turn Gallego remained in his position as CEO of Iberia for longer than planned, but will now take up the role of IAG’s CEO in September.

Commenting on the news Antonio Vazquez, IAG’s chairman, said:

“We announced in March that Willie would delay his retirement for a short period. We can confirm today that Luis Gallego will take over the leadership on 24 September, the expected date for IAG’s AGM, when Willie will step down as CEO.

“We are grateful that Willie delayed his retirement at this challenging time providing the airlines’ management with the necessary stability to focus on the immediate response to the crisis. We look forward to working closely with Luis in his new role.”

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.

This week Walsh warned that it could take three years to return to 2019 traffic levels, and said that group-wide restructuring would be essential “in order to get through the crisis and preserve an adequate level of liquidity”.