Virgin swoops for BA chief


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The Independent Online

Virgin Atlantic today stepped up the pressure on British Airways when it poached an executive who worked on the flag bearer’s key transatlantic alliance to pilot its own future.

Sir Richard Branson’s airline said Craig Kreeger, who has spent his entire career of almost 30 years working at American Airlines including on its  tie-up with BA, will become its chief executive. Kreeger, 53, will replace Steve Ridgway, who announced last year that he was stepping out of Virgin’s cockpit after 11 years in February.

The move comes just weeks after Delta Air Lines bought a 49% stake in Virgin for $360 million (£224 million) and the two airlines set out plans to create an expanded transatlantic network and boost their share of the London-North America market.

Kreeger’s experience of Heathrow includes a six-year stint in London from 2003. The appointment comes weeks after Sir Richard’s battle with BA exploded once more last year when Willie Walsh, boss of BA’s parent International Airlines Group, said the Virgin brand would disappear from the skies after Delta’s bid for the airline.

Sir Richard hit back, saying he would pay out £1 million if that happened in five years. Walsh responded that “a knee in the groin” would be a fairer wager for the loser.

Evening Standard