02:20 GMT25 October 2020
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    As major names in the air service industry are facing widespread job losses due to the coronavirus, the CEO of British Airways become the subject of scorn amongst the airline's workforce due to controversial attempts to cut costs, effectively threatening to fire employees who refused to sign new contracts under a 'fire and re-hire' policy.

    British Airways CEO, Alex Cruz, has resigned, the airline's parent company announced on Monday as the firm fights for its survival amid major losses.

    In the statement, by International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Luis Gallego said that Sean Doyle Cruz, the current CEO of Dublin-base airline Aer Lingus - also owned by IAG - will serve as Cruz' replacement. 

    Doyle has a 2-decade tenure with BA, working in numerous roles such as director of network, fleet, and alliances before he took up the position as head of Aer Lingus in January last year.

    British Airways is "navigating the worst crisis faced in our industry", according to Gallego.

    Gallego thanked Cruz for working "tirelessly to modernize the airline" and for leading the company "through a particularly demanding period." 

    Mr Cruz will stay on as a non-executive chairman for the company for a "transition period" before that role will also be taken up by Mr Doyle.

    British Airways A380-841 G-XLED
    © Flickr / Peter Russell
    British Airways A380-841 G-XLED

    The GMB Union were less warm, however, hitting out against the outgoing CEO for "leaving behind a demoralised workforce during the greatest crisis the aviation industry has ever seen"

    "Cruz is now the scapegoat for BA's catastrophic threat of fire and rehire. His departure should be a stern warning for any other CEO believing it's a tactic they can get away with lightly"

    The airline recently announced plans to cut up to 13,000 jobs from its headcount of 42,000 employees in May on the basis of the 'fire and re-hire' policy which could see some lose up to 50% of their wages.

    Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, said that Cruz was given "a remit to cut costs and found it impossible to do that without alienating BA passengers and employees alike".

    Cruz's departure follows his meeting with MPs in September where he explained that the coronavirus pandemic "has devastated our business, our sector, and we're still fighting for our own survival", claiming that the airline is £20 million ($25.9 million) on a daily basis.

    IAG also announced a number of other changes on Monday including the Aer Lingus current chief corporate affairs officer Donal Moriarty taking over as interim CEO, with a new permanent replacement to be announced: “in due course”.

    Before the pandemic, Cruz, who joined the airline in 2016, oversaw the company's first-ever pilot’s strike in 2019, leading to 2,325 flight cancellations, and a loss of £124 million.

    In 2017, a global IT outage caused the ground of 700 BA flights, costing the carrier £80 million.

    The aviation industry has been significantly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, seeing major airlines struggling as government restrictions and concerns over travel had led to a massive decline in demand.

    BA, alongside other national carriers such as Easyjet and Lufthansa, who have also made major job cuts, are requesting government bailout support in order to keep their services in operation throughout the crisis.

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    coronavirus, COVID-19, British Airways
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