British Airways announced another major boardroom departure yesterday following the resignation of its chief financial officer.

John Rishton, who joined BA in 1994 and was appointed to the finance post in September 2001, will leave at the end of the year to join Dutch retailer Ahold.

However, Europe's third largest airline headed off talk of a change in strategy by appointing an insider as Mr Rishton's successor.

BA said it had promoted group treasurer and head of taxation Keith Williams to the role from January 1,


Oriel Securities analyst Gerald Khoo said: "An internal appointment gives some degree of continuity given that Rishton's departure will mark a complete replacement of the executive directors."

The move was announced at the start of chief executive Rod Eddington's final week at the helm of the airline.

He will be replaced by former Aer Lingus boss Willie Walsh, who said that Mr Williams had "an excellent reputation inside and outside" of BA.

Mr Walsh, who takes the helm on October 3 following his appointment in March, added: "I am very sorry to see John go but delighted to welcome Keith to the leadership team.

"I've worked closely with Keith in the last five months and I look forward to working with him closely in the years ahead."

Mr Williams, who is 49, is a chartered accountant and joined BA as head of taxation in 1998.

He added the role of group treasurer in 2001 and was responsible for managing the reduction of the airline's debt and financing after 9/11.