August 30, 2019 / 12:46 PM / 3 months ago

Ryanair veteran Wilson to run main airline as O'Leary becomes group CEO

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) has appointed veteran executive Eddie Wilson as chief executive of Ryanair’s main airlines business, but he will report to Michael O’Leary who will become CEO of the Ryanair Group, which also includes the Laudamotion and Buzz brands.

FILE PHOTO: Ryanair's Chief People Officer Eddie Wilson holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

Wilson, who has worked at Ryanair for 22 years, has been in charge of negotiations with unions for the past two years as chief people officer. He will take over from Sept. 1, Ryanair said in a note to staff seen by Reuters.

Ryanair has been moving to a structure similar to that of British Airways-owner IAG ICAGL> by operating an increasing number of subsidiaries.

Ryanair Holdings plc, Europe’s largest low-cost airline group, is the parent company of Poland’s Buzz, Austria’s Lauda, Malta Air and Dublin-based Ryanair DAC, which Wilson will lead.

“Eddie will report directly to me as Group CEO and will join my weekly meeting, which will be attended by the Chief Executives of Ryanair DAC, Buzz, Laudamotion and Malta Air,” O’Leary said in a note to staff.

He said he would hand over the running of Ryanair DAC’s weekly management meeting to Wilson during a three-month transition period.

Ryanair DAC operates most of Ryanair’s fleet of more than 475 jets.

Wilson’s appoinment comes just weeks after O’Leary’s July announcement that Chief Operations Officer Peter Bellew would step down at the end of the year. Some observers had seen Bellew, a former CEO of Malaysia Airlines, as a possible future Ryanair chief executive.

Wilson takes over as Ryanair grapples with a wave of industrial action from unions in the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal, but the impact on flights has so far been minimal.

The group carries more than 152 million passengers a year on more than 2,400 daily flights.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan

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