Virgin Atlantic appoints American Airlines veteran as CEO

Richard Branson promoted Virgin Atlantic Airways has appointed Craig Kreeger, 53, as its new Chief Executive from February 1, succeeding Steve Ridgway, who is retiring. Kreeger joins Virgin from Dallas based American Airlines (AA), where he has held a 27-year career spanning commercial, financial and strategic roles.

Kreeger, a graduate of the University of California in San Diego (UCSD) and a MBA from UC Los Angeles, joined American Airlines in 1985 as an analyst, and was appointed Senior Vice President, Customer in 2012.

He spent six years in London as Senior Vice President, International and was responsible for American’s operations and sales throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. He has worked on American’s joint ventures with British Airways and Iberia across the Atlantic, as well as its partnership with Japanese Airlines in the Pacific.

His predecessor Steve Ridgway, has grown Virgin Atlantic, over the last 23 years, from two 747s to 40 widebody aircraft fleet, flying over six million passengers annually.

Kreeger is joining just as Delta Airlines is investing $360 million in Virgin Atlantic to acquire a 49 per cent stake earlier held by Singapore Airlines and the two airlines finalise a new trans-Atlantic joint venture. Virgin is also scrambling to create a domestic network which was vacated when financially ailing BMI was sold by Lufthansa to Virgin’s arch-rival British Airways. BMI was the main feeder of domestic UK and European routes to Virgin. Virgin needs to quickly create a domestic network, or it stands to miss out on some of the valuable slots and gates vacated by BMI.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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