INTERNATIONAL Airlines Group’s long-serving chief executive Willie Walsh has revealed plans to retire from the British Airways owner after a 15-year career with the group.

Mr Walsh – who orchestrated the creation of International Airlines Group (IAG) through the merger of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia – will step down from the role and board of IAG on March 26 and retire on June 30.

 Willie Walsh has announced plans to retire

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Willie Walsh has announced plans to retireCredit: PA:Press Association

He will be succeeded by Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego.

Mr Walsh said: “It has been a privilege to have been instrumental in the creation and development of IAG.

“I have had the pleasure of working with many exceptional people over the past 15 years at British Airways and at IAG.”

He added: “Luis has been a core member of the team and has shown true leadership over the years and I have no doubt he will be a great CEO of IAG.”

Mr Walsh became chief executive of British Airways in 2005 and then led its merger with Iberia in 2011.

IAG chairman Antonio Vazquez said: “Under Willie’s leadership IAG has become one of the leading global airline groups.

“Willie has been the main driver of this unique idea that is IAG.”

He praised Mr Walsh’s “strong leadership and clear vision”.

 Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego (left) will take over from Mr Walsh

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Iberia chief executive Luis Gallego (left) will take over from Mr WalshCredit: Reuters
 The IAG boss was behind the creation of the group

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The IAG boss was behind the creation of the groupCredit: Getty Images – Getty

“I am deeply respectful of what he has achieved as CEO of this group, of his sense of fairness, his transparency and his capacity to integrate people regardless of nationalities or backgrounds,” added Mr Vazquez.

Mr Gallego also has a long career in the airline industry under his belt, having started with Air Nostrum in 1997 and heading Iberia since 2014.

Mr Vazquez said the Iberia boss had led a “profound transformation” at the airline over his time in charge.

On his upcoming role at IAG, Mr Gallego said: “It is a huge honour to lead this great company.

“It is an exciting time at IAG and I am confident that we can build on the strong foundations created by Willie.”

Willie Walsh recently revealed that knocking back a few glasses of red wine is the best way to get over jetlag for him.

And last year, he predicted that more airlines could go under after Thomas Cook.

Sun Online Travel previously revealed how the ex-BA boss had lost a bet to Sir Richard Branson.

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