The hot seat is starting to become some thing of an additional residence for Alex Cruz. Simply over a-year after he became chief executive of British Airways, a 2017 power outage grounded countless routes and left above 75,000 guests stranded.
His effort at a video apology, 3 days following the event, using a high-vis jacket, in a-room saturated in computers, had been extensively lambasted because he had failed to address clients immediately at Heathrow airport. Subsequently, the tanned Basque happens to be hit by a crisis almost annual, from a data breach to a pilots hit and today the coronavirus pandemic, which includes battered the aviation industry and grounded fleets all over the world.
This week, IAG, BAs mother or father business, delivered a-ripple of anxiety over the business by announcing intends to reduce almost 30 percent for the airlines 42,000-strong staff and caution that a go back to 2019 passenger levels would simply take several years. In a letter to BA staff, the ordinarily soft-spoken Mr Cruz granted a battle weep: We must act today. However it is an open question whether staff members will rally around him.
Mr Cruzs history before joining the Brit flag service appears to be promising. Initially from Bilbao in Spain, Mr Cruz moved to the united states to review and finished as a commercial engineer from Central Michigan University.
Dubbed a flight geek by a business friend, Mr Cruz, 54, worked at United states Airlines, the major US service, for decade before founding Spanish spending plan flight Clickair, in 2006. Clickair joined with Vueling, another Spanish affordable airline, which was afterwards obtained by IAG in 2013, and also the fast-growing company became one of the primary contributors to your teams earnings when you look at the following two years.
at that moment, Mr Cruz had been operating high on his successes and had been considered one of several industrys rising skills. He was in addition well-liked, peers and business executives state. His team amazed him for his 50th birthday by putting his title on an Airbus A320.
Mr Cruz has a sparkle inside the eye whenever you talk with him, states John Strickland, an aviation specialist who's got known him for 13 years. Hes down to earth; straight forward as people.
In a market filled with big characters (think Richard Branson or Michael OLeary), Mr Cruz isn't showy, says a business colleague. Known for maintaining a pack of personalised thank you cards, he has written hundreds of records to staff over time. He prefers to travel by trains and buses from their house in an upmarket part of north London. Nevertheless home in which he life with his partner, Maria, and their particular four children, just who span school and college many years, is referred to as not ostentatious. There are a few main professionals that would just wish to meet you at Wolseley [a see-and-be-seen London restaurant] or perhaps the correct hotel lounge bar, but Alex would prefer to meet you at Caff Nero, a colleague notes.
within one present meeting, he stated his number one pastime is his household they have lived-in London for longer than 20 years, despite their functions for Spanish businesses. The BA work permitted him to finish a 10-year travel. His huge enthusiasm is songs, especially choral songs.
But the widely-liked Mr Cruzs tenure as leader of BA has left him with couple of admirers among staff and just a fragment of their former track record of charm.
employed by Willie Walsh, the outbound chief executive of IAG, his task was to make BA more cost-efficient and help it contend with budget competitors. Within a-year, he previously upset clients by removing no-cost meals and drinks for economic climate people traveling within European countries. After that, final September, he presided within the air companies first pilots hit. The 48-hour walkout saw 2,325 flights cancelled, costing IAG about 137m.
Alex implies really and has now countless good motives but...you do not alter an excellent dinosaur organization like BA immediately, claims someone who has caused him for a long time.
While at Vueling, Mr Cruz showed up at nearly every aviation summit, and had been praised to be adept before viewers. At BA, he has all but vanished. Theres a sense hes already been encouraged to keep their head down, states one former flight professional.
Some within BA think he will not like dealing with dispute. Heleft it to their senior supervisors to guide the pilots strike talks and it is fond of soundbites claims one BA pilot. Hes very short on patience. Ive pointed out that many times, the pilot says, but We do not obtain the impression theres malice into the chap.
BAs continued IT problems have actually frustrated consumers, but skillfully developed state the responsibility lies with Mr Walsh, just who delayed their your retirement to guide the group through crisis.
you can find indications that Mr Cruz is learning on-the-job. Whenever BA ended up being struck by a large information breach in 2018, he moved rapidly fast to apologise to customers and keep in touch with the news. He is additionally presiding over a 6.5bn investment programme, including brand-new plane and improvements to business class.
But initially he has to break up to 12,000 jobs and rewrite employees terms and conditions amid what's expected to be a slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
I think hes a beneficial man, stated Jozsef Varadi, leader at Wizz Air, the Hungarian affordable airline. I believe hes a pretty effective manager. He has got had dilemmas, but who doesnt? Myself, I think hes made BA a much better flight.