Ex-Aer Lingus head to be BA chief executive

British Airways has appointed former Aer Lingus boss Willie Walsh as chief executive-designate, to replace departing chief executive Rod Eddington.

The decision ends weeks of speculation over Eddington’s replacement, with mooted candidates including the airline’s top marketer Martin George. Commercial director George was touted by insiders as one of two internal candidates – alongside finance director John Rishton – for the job. Observers say George, 42, may have been considered too young for the position. However, Walsh himself is only 43. He joined Aer Lingus as a cadet pilot in 1979 and rose to chief operating officer in 2000.

Walsh became chief executive following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and resigned in November after the state-owned airline rejected proposals for a management buyout.

Eddington joined BA in May 2000 and will retire at the end of September. During his tenure he has overseen a cost-cutting programme that has claimed 14,000 jobs. He is due to present a two-year business strategy to investors this week.

BA has weathered a number of crises under Eddington, including the rise of no-frills airlines, the economic slump, the fear of terrorism and war in the Gulf. The airline’s image has also been damaged by strikes in the past two summers.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here