IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac will step down at the end of March, and the IATA Board of Governors has tapped as his replacement Wille Walsh, who recently retired as CEO of British Airways' parent company International Airlines Group (IAG).

De Juniac, a former Air France-KLM CEO who has headed the trade group since 2016, made his intention to step down known several months ago, IATA said Monday, allowing for an orderly leadership transition even as the industry reels from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a prepared remark, de Juniac asserted that during his tenure IATA had increased its relevance as the voice of the airline industry. That change, he added, has been evident during the current crisis.

"IATA has set the course to restore air connectivity amid the pandemic with systematic pre-departure testing," he said. "We are well into preparations to fulfill critical vaccine distribution needs. In parallel, we have restructured IATA to survive the crisis and be ready to support the industry recovery with an organization dimensioned to serve a smaller industry."

Walsh stepped down from atop International Airlines Group, which also owns Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Level, in September. He had led the airline group since its founding in 2011, and prior to that he was the CEO of British Airways.

IATA's membership will formally vote on whether to make Walsh its incoming director general during the IATA Annual General Meeting on Tuesday.

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