Virgin Atlantic Airways appointed Craig Kreeger as its new Chief Executive on January 8th. He will assume the role on February 1, 2013. He joins from American Airlines (AA), where he held a 27-year career spanning commercial, financial and strategic roles in the US and around the globe. Kreeger, 53, succeeds current CEO Steve Ridgway, who is retiring from the airline.

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Kreeger, a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Los Angeles, joined AA in 1985 as an analyst and was appointed Senior Vice President, Customer Service in 2012. He spent six years in London as Senior Vice President, International and was responsible for AA operations and sales throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. He has worked on AA joint ventures with British Airways and Iberia across the Atlantic, as well as its partnership with Japan Airlines in the Pacific.

Last September Virgin Atlantic announced Steve Ridgway would retire in the Spring of 2013, once a successor was in place. Steve has had a 23-year tenure with Virgin Atlantic and became Chief Executive in 2001. During his time at the airline, Virgin Atlantic has grown from two 747s to a fleet of 40 long haul aircraft, flying six million passengers a year all over the world.

Ridgway has been an integral member of the team which has built one of the most coveted brands in aviation and has successfully steered the airline through major global aviation issues including the tragic events of 9/11 and the 2008 Global Financial crisis.

Kreeger joins at an exciting time for Virgin Atlantic as Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) is finalizing an agreement for a new joint venture that will create an expanded Trans-Atlantic network. This new venture will materially enhance competition between the United Kingdom and North America, offering great benefits for customers traveling those routes.

Virgin Atlantic President, Sir Richard Branson, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Craig to Virgin Atlantic – he is the right person to succeed Steve Ridgway at this dynamic and challenging time for our airline. We believe Craig has the experience and passion to drive Virgin Atlantic forward and capitalize on the opportunities created by our new venture with Delta Airlines.”

Steve Ridgway said: “I am very pleased to welcome Craig Kreeger to Virgin Atlantic as the new CEO. He will be taking over at a time when the airline enters a new phase – with the Delta deal to implement, the commencement of short haul competition for British Airways on UK domestic routes – as well as the arrival of an ultra-efficient 787 fleet in 2014. I will miss the amazing team of friends and colleagues at Virgin Atlantic; they should be very proud of the airline they have built.”

Craig Kreeger said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Executive. It is a great airline renowned for its customer service and innovation. I have been competing with it for many years but have always admired its laser focus on its people, its products and its customers. I look forward to working with the Virgin Atlantic team to build on Steve’s achievements and create the next exciting chapter.”

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