Iberia's CEO steps down

27 Mar 2013 by BusinessTraveller

The boss of struggling Spanish carrier Iberia is stepping down with “immediate effect”.

Parent company IAG, which also owns British Airways, announced that Rafael Sanchez-Lozano was quitting as Iberia’s chief executive by “mutual agreement”. He will be replaced by Luis Gallego who is currently chief executive of Iberia’s no-frills subsidiary Iberia Express.

Loss-making Iberia is currently undergoing a major restructuring in a bid to turn around its financial fortunes. The airline earlier this month reached a deal with its unions, following the invention of a mediator appointed by the Spanish government, to end a series of damaging strikes.

Sanchez-Lozano said: “I have been proud to lead Iberia for over three years. It has been a privilege to work for such a great company.

“After reaching agreement with the mediator and the majority of our unions, we have achieved an important milestone as we restructure the airline. The company is now entering a new phase and it is time for me to pass on the baton to my successor.”

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh added: “I would like to thank Rafael for his hard work and commitment to Iberia. He has led the airline through a very difficult period in the midst of a deep recession and has completed the first important step towards returning the airline to profitability.

“Luis Gallego has extensive experience across a range of international airlines. He was instrumental as chief executive of Iberia Express in creating an airline that is a great success.”

Iberia Express was set up last year to operate short and medium-haul flights from Spain.

Gallego said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead Iberia. The airline has an enviable international network and is a leader from Europe to the powerhouse economies of South America.

“As chief executive of Iberia Express I have worked closely with Iberia and l look forward to taking the company into a new era and successful future.”

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Report by Rob Gill

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