John Coleman, the former chief executive of House of Fraser, will take over from Ayling on May 1. Ayling held the post at Holidaybreak for six years, and followed his chairmanship of BA, a post he held for four years.
His tenure of top job at BA was marred with controversy, and included a huge slump in profits as well as the carrier’s share price halving. A devout Blairite, he also sparked fury by replacing BA’s trademark Union Flag on tailfins of planes with ethnic designs.
Meanwhile staff morale dropped to an all-time low and included a bitter strike by cabin crew in 1997.
He was also chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company, which was responsible for running the ill-fated Millennium Dome, quitting in May 2000 after the Dome was given a £29 million emergency handout from lottery funds.
Carl Michel, Holidaybreak’s chief executive, told The Times: “I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Bob Ayling for all he has contributed as chairman over the last six years. Personally, as chief executive, I have found his advice, support and direction invaluable. On behalf of everyone at Holidaybreak, I would like to wish him well in all his future endeavours.”
Holidaybreak is an education, leisure and activity travel group with companies including Europcamp, Keycamp and Superbreak.