LONDON Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. appointed Craig Kreeger, a 53-year-old American, as its chief executive officer, four weeks after Delta Air Lines Inc. agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in the U.K. carrier.
Kreeger, who takes over Feb. 1, joins from American Airlines, where he is a senior vice president, and replaces Steve Ridgway, who said in September that he would step down this year after running Virgin Atlantic since 2001.
The new chief executive officer has the experience needed to tap opportunities created by the Delta deal, which will see the carriers operate a joint venture on 31 daily flights between the U.K. and North America, billionaire Branson said in a statement.
Born in Little Rock, Kreeger has worked at AMR Corp. for 27 years in commercial, financial and strategic roles, according to Virgin.
Julie Southern, 53, who was seen as an internal candidate for the CEO post, will remain chief commercial officer.
Kreeger, who previously spent six years in London as AMR’s senior vice president, international, will need to get the Delta relationship “up and running as soon as possible,” as well overseeing Virgin’s move into short-haul flights, McNeill said.
A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, who also holds an MBA from UCLA, Kreeger also worked on American Airlines ventures with British Airways, Virgin’s chief rival at London Heathrow. He is currently senior vice president, customer, at Fort Worth-based AMR, a post he took on last year.