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BA picks Ireland's Walsh as next CEO
By Steve Goldstein, 08 March 2005

Shares rise after company picks outsider to run BA

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- A day after a Briton took the helms of Japan's flagship technology company, an Irishman was named to take control of Britain's national carrier.

British Airways (BAB) (BAY) on Tuesday said Willie Walsh, 43, will take over as Rod Eddington leaves the airline at the end of September.

Eddington, an admired CEO in London for helping turn costs at BA around, was expected to step down this year. The airline cited Walsh's ability as CEO of Ireland's Aer Lingus from a high-cost underperforming carrier into a profitable company for his hiring.

Other CEO candidates were thought to have included CFO John Rishton and Commercial Director Martin George.

Cathay Pacific's COO Tony Tyler and Gulf Air's James Hogan, along with Walsh, were considered to be the candidates from outside the company.

"Willie was determined that Aer Lingus had to provide what its customers demanded and that was a low price for an air ticket. At British Airways he will focus his efforts and energies on what our customer base demands which are quality service and value for money," Chairman Martin Broughton said in a statement.

Eddington's impending departure was well-flagged; he was reported to want to return to his native Australia, but his replacement was not as widely expected.

The market responded positively, with BA shares rising 2 percent. See London Markets.

Eddington has cut 14,000 jobs during his five-year tenure, though he admitted last summer that the job cuts went too far when nearly 1,000 flights had to be cancelled due to a summer staffing crisis.

Still, Eddington helped steer the company out of lows following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks into one that grew nine-month ending Dec. 31 pre-tax profits to 410 million pounds ($788 million).{DE7829FE-B60A-4933-A960-E0B3E35CFF19}&currticker=bab&symbols=bab&nx=&bx=

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