Simpson, who joins as head of corporate communications in August, takes on one of the toughest jobs in PR. The post has been covered on an interim basis by Thomas Coops since Ian Burns left amid controversy over price-fixing allegations early last year.
In her current role as adviser on strategic communications at 10 Downing Street, Simpson has given the outgoing Prime Minister comms advice on counter-terrorism, home affairs and education in recent months.
She will now report directly to Walsh with overall responsibility for corporate media relations, BA's news desk and internal comms. She is expected to brief Walsh on reputational issues several times a day.
Walsh said: ‘This is one of the most important jobs in communications. Julia's background and experience are exactly what we need, given the wide-ranging communications agenda that we have over the medium term.'
BA's challenges include tense relationships with trade unions and the smooth transition to the new Terminal 5.
‘BA is constantly in the public eye but I have headed organisations dealing with some of the most difficult kind of stories in the public domain,' Simpson told PRWeek. ‘I'm used to working with great leaders and Willie Walsh is such a leader.'
Simpson has worked in Downing Street since September 2006.