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Alex Cruz stands down as British Airways Chairman

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Alex Cruz has finally left the building.

When Alex was unceremoniously removed as British Airways Chief Executive last October, he retained the role of Chairman.

This period came to an end yesterday, with new CEO Sean Doyle taking on the dual role of Chairman and Chief Executive.

Doyle said:

We are very grateful to Alex for all he has done for British Airways and we wish him the very best in the future. “

Which means, for one last time, I can use the photo above.

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Comments (37)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • JMac says:

    Pretty sure the UK Corporate Governance Code suggests that the chair and CEO should be two different people (below). It’s strange they have departed from that yet again. While they don’t need to apply/disclose compliance with the UKCG I do find it really odd that in the British Airways plc annual report that there is absolutely no discussion on their governance arrangements! I I personally think there is benefits of having a healthy tension between the two role holders and hold the other accountable.

    The chair should be independent on appointment when assessed against the circumstances set out in Provision 10. The roles of chair and chief executive should not be exercised by the same individual. A chief executive should not become chair of the same company. If, exceptionally, this is proposed by the board, major shareholders should be consulted ahead of appointment. The board should set out its reasons to all shareholders at the time of the appointment and also publish these on the company website.

    • JDB says:

      BA is an unlisted subsidiary, so the Code does not apply.

      • Nick says:

        Correct. JMac may not be aware that British Airways is a subsidiary of International Airlines Group (IAG) which is registered in Spain, but Headquartered in London and has primary listings on the London and Madrid stock exchanges. JMac may be interested to learn that IAG also owns, Aer Lingus, IAG Cargo. IAG Loyalty, Iberia, LEVEL and Vueling. IAG does indeed have a separate Chairman (Antonio Vazquez Romero) and CEO (Luis Gallego). It is common practice for the roles of Chairman and CEO not to be combined for subsidiary companies.

        • Stu N says:

          The Chair role at BA isn’t a proper chair now it is just a subsidiary of IAG. It’s mainly symbolic and may be difficult to get rid of, even if IAG wanted to.

          Chair and non-execs provide (amongst other things) oversight and challenge to the exec directors – for BA this will come from IAG management so the chair role isn’t really required.

          Only at IAG level do you need separation of roles and listing rules apply there.

      • JMac says:

        Yes I think I did say they don’t need to in what I said, there are many others that voluntarily comply or at least have some commentary on their governance arrangements. As a major employer in the UK, they should be held more accountable and be transparent in my opinion.

        For the avoidance of doubt, my point is whether they could disclosure not that they should have and haven’t.

    • David S says:

      I totally agree

  • Venturelog says:

    Buying points with Virgin, they seem to charge you a transaction fee!
    “Every purchase comes with a one-off £15 transaction fee. You can purchase points in increments of 1,000. It costs £15 for every 1,000 points you purchase. For example, if you buy 1,000 points you’ll pay £30, if you buy 5,000 points you’ll pay £90 and if you buy 10,000 points you’ll pay £165”

    • Mark says:

      That’s not been the case for my purchase. 100K points bought with 1 fee of £15.00

    • ChrisC says:

      That’s been the case for donkeys years.

      Buy 1 k and it’s £30 ( £15 for the miles and £ 15 for the fee)

      Buy 5k and it’s 5×15 for the miles (£75) + the fee = £90.

      Buy 10k and it’s 10×15 = £150 + the fee = £90.

      Unless I’m missing something from your post?

      • Venturelog says:

        Thanks, that makes sense. I just copied and pasted what Virgin had and it’s been worded poorly
        Not seen any other companies who uses charge a transaction fee

  • Jonathan says:

    I think I remember seeing somewhere I sweet spot on spending VS Miles, very similar to the great return that could be made when flying First class in Air China, until they realised how too good it was, and tripled the amount of Miles required! Then not too long afterwards, the agreement with Virgin Atlantic and Air China ended

  • Stu N says:

    Remember you’re running a fair old risk in buying and holding VS points at the moment, so factor that in too.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      It depends on what Rob’s doing with his VS points…

      • Magic Mike says:

        Rob – the one man who could singlehandedly start a run on a frequent flyer program?

  • Mikeact says:

    I seem to remember that Alex Cruz was never that popular with readers on here. However I introduced myself to him when I bumped into him while transiting through Madrid. On a personal level he seemed a really nice guy.

    • Nick says:

      On a personal level he really was lovely. As a CEO he was not. He’s the kind of person who thrives in a smallish start-up where he knows everyone and they’re building up, or in his words ‘failing fast’. Unfortunately that skillset doesn’t translate to management of a huge legacy company, and he struggled with credibility from day one.

      Still though – and I’m not excusing him as he genuinely was terrible – he did invest in some very important areas that I don’t think anyone else would have done. He deserves some credit for that.

      • HAK says:

        I suppose his credit was given in his pay packet.

        • Rob says:

          You don’t earn much running BA. There will be 500 people in Barclays UK earning more than Alex, probably over 1000 at Goldman Sachs. All those share options are worthless.

    • marcw says:

      My opinion is that Alex Cruz was an excellent leader for BA. BA flew to more destinations than ever, transported record number of passengers (+ record profits), introduced a new business seat, refurbished many lounges, tweaked the service on board for the better (IMO, the current Speedbird cafe is just bollocks). There were some major hiccups as well, IT issues and the data leak, but with a big picture in mind, Alex Cruz was what BA needed.
      If you ask me, Gallego’s “Castilian” attitude does not bond well with an ambitious Alex Cruz. That’s why the first thing he did was to get rid of him.

      • BP says:

        Hi Alex

      • Rob says:

        Cruz used to be Gallego’s boss, which is probably part of the reason he went.

        You seem to have forgotten, probably by virtue of not living in the UK, how much bad publicity Cruz created for BA via his 2017 cost cutting, across all the national media. It was so extreme that our coverage of it got me mentioned in The Economist and won me ‘Editor of the Year’ at the Business Travel Journalism Awards.

        And, of course, when Cruz was forced to reverse the changes, none of the same newspapers bothered to write articles saying things had changed, so everyone carried on thinking that 2nd meals had gone etc.

        Club Suite was on the way well before Alex got the job. His main contribution was to scrap the new seat that BA had designed from scratch (and so expensive) and go for the seat that Qatar Airways had already dumped as out-dated, just bunging a door on the front.

        Good stuff, for balance – First Wing, Club Europe on domestics, some lounge investment elsewhere, signing the DO&CO contract, #BA100

        Ignore fleet renewal as there was little choice given the age of 747 fleet.

        • marcw says:

          I lived in the UK until 2019. I am well aware of the cost cutting that AC mastered, and all the bad publicity he gained. But that’s how media works, and Twitter, it’s a funnelled echo chamber. Positive news rarely make it that far (audience-wise) in the media (and Twitter). I bet there is a big difference between your SpeedBird Cafe and the article you wrote when BA decided to introduce BoB.

          Anyway, I doubt Sean Doyle will do anything interesting to BA. Looks more like a manager rather than an actual leader with some good ideas.

          • Rob says:

            Totally agree about Sean, but to be fair to IAG I’d want an accountant running it at the moment too. I’m not sure I’d want an accountant running it in 18 months though.

        • Jonathan says:

          I remember the flights to Dubai and Tel Aviv that were mistakenly sold (via third party agents) too cheap, and those affected had their bookings cancelled, when they’d already booked things like non refundable hotel accommodation, and replacement flights had increased by around a factor of 5. BA were encouraged by numerous consumer group bodies to honour the tickets as it was a mistake on their end, not the customers end, and the fares did appear to be genuine, and there was no indication that the tickets were so cheap, then if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is

          • bafan says:

            Why on earth should they? That was on silly people booking non refundable hotels etc. Do consumer groups pay the bills at BA? No.

          • lumma says:

            Because in the case of the Tel Aviv flights they were cheap for what BA would charge, but not too cheap compared to what you’d pay for wizzair or easyJet. This wasn’t people picking up a £40 flight to New York

        • Alex Sm says:

          Add here ditching “To Fly. To Serve” motto in favour of this LCC mentality and no frills brand identity

  • David Webb says:

    Well, he wasn’t exactly a Sir Tim Clark! BA have systematically set themselves on the decline for decades. Look where they were in 1970! Concorde, world leader, now, expensive Ryanair.

  • 1ATL says:

    AC sat in front of me on a IB flight to Heathrow once with a couple other board member cronies on the other side of the aisle. I made reference to the purser how great it was to get a proper hot meal in Business Class (which wasn’t the case on MAD-LHR at the time), and how much I favoured their service (the only time I’ve had a medium rare fillet steak in Euro Business Class) and how it spoke volumes considering who some of the other passengers on this flight were. She seemed embarrassed and she returned to the galley. I looked left and the 2 cronies were eavesdropping as planned, AC also has his head turned so that his ear could pick up the conversation. About 3 months later hot catering resumed on Madrid. I’d like to take the credit for this revolution in service on the LHR-MAD-LHR route but I’m realistic to realise I would have had zero to do with it lol.

    • Peter K says:

      Who knows. It may well have been a factor. A small factor perhaps, but a factor.

    • Dubious says:

      Maybe you were the tipping point that secured the decision.

  • tony says:

    There seem to be some new AMEX offers on my card. £75 off a £350 spend at Red Carnation hotels, 15% off Gett being the ones that look most interesting.

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