Aer Lingus chief Willie Walsh to defer retirement to deal with coronavirus

The airline will cut its flying capacity by at least 75% in April and May.

Aer Lingus chief Willie Walsh to defer retirement to deal with coronavirus

The head of Aer Lingus and British Airways Willie Walsh is to defer his planned retirement in order to deal with the coronavirus challenge.

Mr Walsh, the chief executive of IAG which also owns Iberia was due to retire later this month. However, it was announced this morning that he would defer his retirement for a few months to provide stability during this challenging time.

"We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer," Mr Walsh said.

"We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules. We will continue to monitor demand levels and we have the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary."

IAG said it would cut its flying capacity by at least 75% in April and May. They have already suspended flights to China, reduced capacity on Asian routes, cancelled all flights to, from and within Italy. Along with the US Presidential announcement to restrict entry of foreign nationals, many other countries have banned or are restricting inward travel including Argentina, Chile, India and Peru. Spain has also been the subject of travel advisories.

As a result, the global airline industry is facing one of its most difficult periods since post 911. However, despite this, Mr Walsh said IAG has not asked for state aid.

“I think individual airlines have been approaching governments looking for state aid, we have not done so. Governments would expect airlines to look at self-help before they would call on governments to provide state aid.”

Additional reporting Reuters

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