British Airways Parent Company Denies Willie Walsh Forced To Leave Over An Affair

It was surprising news on Thursday when British Airways parent company IAG announced Willie Walsh would step down as CEO. He told investors just a couple of months ago that he planned to retire before turning 60, but he’s still 58.

Most of the discussion surrounded why British Airways CEO Alex Cruz wasn’t getting the top slot at the parent company. There was less speculation around ‘why now’ for Walsh’s departure. Less speculation, that is, until now.

  • Last year Walsh sold over $4 million in IAG stock to fund a divorce

  • The board has been made aware of an ongoing relationship he’s had with an employee

  • However IAG denies this is the reason for his impending departure

Many companies have strict policies against this. Walsh isn’t the only senior airline executive rumored to have left a position in the past several years over a relationship with a subordinate.

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So on top of being a general weasel, the guy flaunts company rules to cheat on his wife with people that work for him? This guy is some piece of work.

  2. For decades as a manager, later executive then CEO and now Chairman, I have said that: “..I could legislate against lust, I couldn’t legislate against love.” Only two people know what type of relationship Mr. Walsh was involved in that caused a divorce, but it seems to me that the divorce by itself might suggest him seeking a more permanent relationship with his current love interest.
    I have always been of a mind that when two folk in a company join up it would be way better for all concerned that one leave the company voluntarily, it’s just common sense to me. Sometimes, in specialized roles or industries that isn’t always easy.
    That said, I do not, and never have, understand why companies have such a hard on (might be a bad metaphor) for consensual relationships. Not everyone is Harvey Weinstein, even if the media would have us believe he is..
    Is it desirable? No. It’s just another entaglement in the excessively tangled lives we try to live in and manage, but should such a thing always be career ending? Of course not. That’s just #metoo BS.

    PS: I don’t like BA, and what it has become under Mr. Walsh. Lord Marshall was a much nicer guy. (That dates me)

  3. @Woofie, not sure if your comment about Lord Marshall dates you, but the rest of your comment certainly does, at least from a North American perspective.
    I too moved up through the ranks to CEO, although never to chairman.
    Affairs between executives and subordinates are great as long as they stay together, but if there is a break up, even if the subordinate has already left the company long before, it opens the company up to massive liability. 20 or 30 years ago, it would never have been an issue, but in the last two decades, it has become a much larger potential liability. If such an affair was discovered in a company I lead, I would strongly encourage the superior to find another position outside of our company. Not career ending, but definitely would require a career detour.

  4. C’mon mate, out of the closet, who is he? I’ll bet anything its a flight attendant, it is BA after all

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