Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Shai Weiss will take the helm of the UK carrier after Craig Kreeger retires at year-end.

Weiss has been with Virgin Atlantic since August 2012. He became finance chief in July 2014 and assumed his current role in January last year.

Confirming the plan to promote Weiss, Virgin Atlantic notes that it will next year embark on a "mid-range corporate plan" dubbed Velocity.

The airline says its expanded joint-venture partnership with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM is "at the heart of" the new plan.

"As we embark on Velocity, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the leadership baton to Shai and for me to begin a new chapter," states Kreeger.

The outgoing chief executive, who took up the role in February 2013, highlights the priority he attached to "empowering our people" and points to the airline's "transformed" financial performance.

Airline president Richard Branson has thanked Kreeger for the "fantastic job" he did during his five years in charge. "He has focused our people on providing the best customer service by refreshing our onboard experience, bringing in new planes and bringing us closer to our partner Delta," states Branson.

For his part, Delta chief Ed Bastian hails Kreeger's "important contributions" to "the success of our transatlantic joint venture".

He adds: "Now is a great time for Shai to succeed Craig and lead Virgin Atlantic as we enter a new and exciting chapter." This, he notes, will involve the combination of the Delta-Virgin Atlantic partnership and the US carrier's separate one with Air France-KLM and Alitalia.

Virgin Atlantic chairman Peter Norris credits chief-in-waiting Weiss with "an unwavering commitment to excellence and a relentless ability to challenge the status quo".

Source: Cirium Dashboard