Virgin Atlantic Gets a New Boss, as Richard Branson Leaves His Majority Stake Behind

Jun 21, 2018

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Virgin Atlantic is getting a new boss. Effective January 1, 2019, Shai Weiss, the current commercial head for the carrier, will take over as CEO for Craig Kreeger, as Richard Branson cedes his majority stake in the airline.

The transition of power follows news that Virgin Atlantic’s alliance with Delta, which owns 49% of the UK airline, is set to be extended to include the Air France-KLM Group. Once complete, the Air France-KLM Group will get a 31% stake in the company, which will come from Branson’s ownership. After the deal, Branson will be left with just a 20% stake in the airline, which was founded in 1984. Nevertheless, the move represents Branson ceding his majority 51% stake in the airline.

Kreeger has been the CEO of Virgin Atlantic since 2013. At the end of 2018, Kreeger will retire — shortly before turning 60. Kreeger’s successor, Shai Weiss, has been with the company since he joined its board in 2012, as reported by Bloomberg. In 2014, Weiss became the carrier’s chief financial officer, and in 2017, he became the chief commercial officer.

Under Kreeger’s helm, the airline had mixed results — especially recently. In 2016, the airline turned a profit. However, in 2017, it posted a £28 million ($37 million) pretax loss. Responsible for the loss included the weak pound, which hurt demand for flights, as well as increased competition in the transatlantic market — especially from low-cost carriers, such as Norwegian and WOW Air. In an effort to curb the affect of low-cost carriers on its bottom line, Virgin introduced three different economy class tiers in March 2018, putting some of its offerings more in-line with that offered by its LCC competitors.

Featured image by Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images.

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