Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, is to step down after 24 years with the newspaper group to head Easyjet.
McCall will leave the post she has held for four years later this year to become chief executive of the low-cost airline.
GMG confirmed her departure this morning and said an announcement regarding its plans to appoint a successor would be made “in due course”.
McCall said: “The Guardian has been my second family for a quarter of a century, and I feel incredibly privileged to be part of such a wonderful and unique organisation.
“However, the chance to lead a FTSE company of Easyjet’s calibre is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The business has a superb brand and a great future ahead of it, and I’m looking forward to driving its continued success.
“I will leave GMG knowing that our journalism has never been more influential or widely read, and with complete confidence that its financial position is secure.”
McCall joined the Guardian in 1986 as a planner in the marketing department. She went on to hold several positions with publisher Guardian News & Media, including advertising director, commercial director, managing director and chief executive.
She was promoted to chief executive of parent organisation GMG in August, 2006, taking over from Sir Robert Phillis as he retired.
During her reign at GNM, McCall oversaw the launch of Guardian Unlimited, now called Guardian.co.uk, the move from broadsheet a Berliner format of the Guardian and Observer newspapers and relocation of the business from a series of buildings in and around Farringdon Road to a new purpose-build headquarters at Kings Place, in Kings Cross, London.
McCall’s last major act was to pull GMG out of local and regional newspaper journalism by selling its 32 newspapers to Trinity Mirror for £7.4m cash and the release from a £37m contract to print its papers at Trinity Mirror presses.
The move ended the Guardian’s near 130 year association with the Manchester Evening News.