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Former British Airways Boss Alex Cruz in Talks to Take Helm at Scandinavian Airline SAS

Former British Airways Boss Alex Cruz in Talks to Take Helm at Scandinavian Airline SAS

The chief executive of British Airways, Alex Cruz has already experienced one major cabin crew strike since taking on the role. Photo Credit: British Airways

Alex Cruz, the former chief executive of British Airways, has been approached by embattled Scandinavian airline SAS to take the helm from outgoing CEO Rickard Gustafson who is set to leave the company after ten years.

Cruz, 54, stepped down from his role as chief executive at British Airways last October after he came in for intense criticism for the way the airline responded to the pandemic and in particular its plans to ‘fire and rehire’ thousands of staff on lower wages and less generous contracts.

The Spaniard had taken the role of non-executive chairman at British Airways but quietly left the role last week. As well as facing criticism over the airline’s treatment of staff, Cruz was famously blamed for an IT meltdown in June 2017 that grounded hundreds of flights and left tens of thousands of passengers stranded.

Cruz was also in charge during a massive data breach that led regulators to slap the airline with a record £183 million fine. His combative approach to staff relation was also blamed for a pilots strike in 2019 that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations and a huge bill for British Airways.

The airline later conceded to most of the demands made by the powerful BALPA pilots union.

His fall from grace could, however, be nearly over with reports suggesting that Cruz is on a shortlist of just a few contenders to take over at SAS. Both the airline and Cruz declined to comment on the rumours on Monday.

SAS recently suffered its own data breach through a third party supplier, while pilots at the airline went on strike in 2019. The airline has been hit hard by the pandemic and is now partly owned by the Danish and Swedish governments.

Before taking over at British Airways, Cruz made his name in the low-cost airline world, helping to found Clickair which was later merged into Vueling. He brought his low-cost mindset to British Airways where he set cost-cutting was now “embedded in the DNA” of the airline.

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