Appointed last November at the 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Irish Willie Walsh officially replaced the French Alexandre de Juniac in the general management of the association on April 1. But who is the 8th IATA Director General?
Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1961, Walsh joined the country’s flag carrier Aer Lingus in 1979, as a cadet pilot, becoming a captain in 1990. One year earlier, he had moved into a management position in the airline’s flight operations department, beginning a rise that led to him being appointed Chief Executive of Futura, Aer Lingus’ Spanish charter airline in 1998.
He returned to Aer Lingus in 2000 as Chief Operations Officer (COO) and was appointed Chief Executive in October 2001 at a time when the carrier was in a grave financial crisis following the 9.11 attacks. Walsh led a radical restructuring that returned Aer Lingus to profitability.
In 2005, Walsh was appointed Chief Executive of British Airways (BA). He led BA through the 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis, established a transatlantic joint business venture with Iberia, Finnair and American Airlines, and oversaw the 2011 merger of BA and Iberia under a newly established parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG). Walsh served as Chief Executive of IAG from its inception until he retired in September 2020.
A citizen of Ireland, Wash holds a Master of Science and Business Administration from Trinity College, Dublin.