Virgin Atlantic boss Steve Ridgway was in London today, addressing the great and the good of the UK aviation industry at an Aviation Club lunch in London. Ridgway could be excused some nostalgia given that he has just handed the baton over to Craig Kreeger after more than a decade at the helm of the UK carrier.
He leaves at something of a turning point for Virgin Atlantic, as it prepares to begin its first domestic flights (as a result of former codeshare partner BMI’s integration into rival British Airways) and the alliance-shy carrier is set to launch of a transatlantic joint venture with new minority shareholder Delta Air Lines.
But what were his biggest successes and mistakes during that time in charge he was asked from the floor?
“The thing I am most proud of is we’ve always tried really hard to innovate things, that has been very hard at times, but as a company we’ve always had more ideas than we could ever implement. The main thing has been about it all being about the people. What I tried to do to keep the company connected.”
And as for regrets, well one of them was the group’s short-lived African venture Virgin Nigeria.
“I am personally very disappointed about Virgin Nigeria. I think we set up a great airline there, but maybe were a bit niave. That need is still there, and ironically is happening again now. That could have been a really good opportunity.”
You can read much more about Ridgway’s legacy at the UK airlines and views on the current challenges in the recent Airline Business cover interview. Read the full interview and watch a video interview with Ridgway.
And we’ve now put all the Airline Business cover interviews from 2012 – which also includes the likes of Tony Tyler, Keith Williams, John Slosar and Ben Beldanza – complete with video interviews, photos and additional data, in one handy place. Check out the archives here