Thought BA’s Alex Cruz had disappeared? Think again…

Since Alex Cruz stepped down as chief executive of British Airways, the Spaniard has been linked with various high-profile management positions across the global aviation sector. From leading a new-look Air India to stepping into the hot seat at SAS – it seems Cruz’s often turbulent tenure at the top of BA wasn’t enough to scare off potential suitors.

Now, after months of the industry rumour mill running red-hot, it appears Cruz has finally agreed terms on at least one new aviation role. Calgary-based carrier WestJet has confirmed that Cruz has been appointed to the board of directors of its parent firm, the WestJet Group.

“It is my pleasure to officially welcome Alex to the WestJet Group's board at this moment in our history," said Chris Burley, chairman of the WestJet Group's board.

WestJet MAX

“Alex's impressive experience leading both full service and low-cost airlines make him an invaluable addition to our board as the airline continues to improve its cost position to compete more vigorously with carriers of all sizes. This appointment will help strategically position the WestJet Group as it emerges from the pandemic serving an even greater number of guests looking forward to travelling once again," continued Burley.

While he is best known in the UK as being head honcho of British Airways between 2016 and 2021, Cruz has an impressive list of other big-name brands under his belt.

The aviation executive founded and served as the CEO of Clickair, a low-cost airline which later merged into Vueling in July 2009; helping set the foundations for what is now Spain's second-largest airline with 163 destinations. Vueling is part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), which includes British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Level as its other carriers.

Before Clickair Cruz was on the payroll at American Airlines – where he held a variety of management roles. He also ran his own aviation consulting company with clients including Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines.

Speaking upon confirmation of his appointment, Cruz said: "I am delighted to join the WestJet Group board of directors. Few carriers navigated the pandemic without issuing equity or debt, or accepting sector-specific government support. It speaks to WestJet's cost position and I look forward to helping deliver even more value for guests."

While this is his first high-profile aviation appointment since leaving BA, the Bilbao-born exec is already a board member of various tech companies. He also advises private equity firms and contributes to the advanced management course at Barcelona's IESE Business School.

Cruz's appointment marks a transitionary period for the senior management team at WestJet. Just last week the Canadian carrier welcomed former Austrian Airlines chief Alexis von Hoensbroech as its new CEO. 

WestJet was launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations. Prior to the pandemic it boasted a network map with more than 100 destinations across 23 countries.