Cork man is new Aer Lingus CEO

By Geoff Percival

Aer Lingus has named Cork native Sean Doyle as its next chief executive, after announcing that the incumbent, Stephen Kavanagh, intends to step down at the end of the year.

Mr Kavanagh said he is stepping down to pursue other interests. He will, however, remain on the Aer Lingus board as a non-executive director.

Mr Doyle is currently a director at British Airways, where he has worked since 1998. The UCC graduate, who takes over as Aer Lingus boss on January 1, was appointed to British Airways’ executive management committee in 2016. He is currently in charge of British Airways’ network and fleet planning and airline partnerships.

Mr Kavanagh has held various roles at Aer Lingus for nearly 30 years — forming part of the executive team which took the airline public in 2006 — and took over from Christoph Mueller as chief executive in early 2015.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, which owns both Aer Lingus and British Airways, described Mr Kavanagh as having been an “exceptional” chief executive and credited him with transforming and modernising Aer Lingus.

IAG also said Mike Rutter, chief operating officer of Aer Lingus, has extended his contract with the airline.

Meanwhile, Britain’s competition watchdog is to investigate a partnership between British Airways and other airlines on transatlantic routes ahead of the 2020 expiry of a previous deal.

British Airways, American Airlines, Iberia, and Finnair form the Atlantic Joint Business Agreement, a revenue-sharing joint venture that covers routes between Europe and North America and allows the partners to co-operate on pricing, capacity, and schedules.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), however, said it would open an investigation of the agreement, adding that the case is at an early stage and no assumption should be made that partnership infringes competition law.

The CMA said it had decided to study the partnership because commitments made by the airlines on six routes, after a previous EU competition investigation, are due to expire in 2020.

By that time, the UK will no longer be part of the EU, potentially removing the oversight of the European Commission, prompting the CMA to launch its investigation because five of the six routes involve London. Analysts said the review could hamper any IAG plan for a takeover of Norwegian Air.

- Additional reporting, Reuters

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