Virgin Atlantic has reshuffled its trade sales team and is to launch an agency incentive scheme that was postponed due to Covid-19 as it looks to rebuild its business.

Lee Haslett admitted there had been a “reduction” in overall headcount in his team, but said he had made some changes to better support trade partners.

More: Virgin Atlantic apologises over refund delays

Sara Andell, who was head of leisure sales for two years, is staying within Haslett’s team but will now be heading up market development.

“Sara’s role will be working with key agencies and the key commercial function of those agencies, to ensure we maximise our performance and they get the most out of us,” he explained.

Nicola Goldsmith, who was head of product and purchasing at Virgin Holidays, has joined Haslett’s team as head of leisure sales for Virgin Atlantic.

“Her role and her key remit is to get out there and really engage with our key trade partners to educate, to ensure they have all the information that’s required, and ensure we are absolutely on point with the content we’re providing, whether that’s training, or development,” said Haslett.

He added that he had “built a new team to support agents with day-to-day enquiries, led by head of sales operations Charlotte Preston.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Haslett said: “We’ve brought in one more into my direct team and then, underneath that, we’ve made some changes to the account management team, which we’ll publish later this week, to say who the new account managers are.

“So we have reshuffled our account management team and that team took effect from July 1. Some of them are furloughed at the moment, but we’ve just brought a number of them back into the business in July to make sure we start engaging and supporting [agents] as we return to flying,” he said.

Haslett said Virgin Atlantic had increased it workforce from a sales perspective by 20% in July, following staff being furloughed during lockdown, and said he would look at increasing it further into September and October.

“We have had some reduction but we’ve reshuffled our team to ensure we’ve invested in a market dedicated market development and business development function that we didn’t have before,” he said.

“So that is now a team of seven people. Then we have a team of seven people that does purely leisure trade sales, and a team of seven people that do travel management sales, and a team of seven that do corporate sales as well,” he explained.

Haslett added that he was planning to launch a new agency incentive scheme, postponed due to the pandemic, in the coming weeks.

“We’ll be looking at, and we alluded to this in the start of the year, a new agency incentive scheme. We obviously put that on ice for a period of time. We are going to pick that up again. We haven’t got a date yet of when we’ll announce it but we absolutely want to look at what we can do with that piece of work going into Q4, and then into what we all hope is a very good peak trading period in January,” he said.

“This is a real milestone week. We have returned to passenger flights and we’re really excited about and positive about where we’re heading. It’s been a difficult period and we know we’ve got some work to do. But we’re here; the new team is here; and we’re ready to start rebuilding now.”

More: Virgin Atlantic apologises over refund delays

Virgin Atlantic returns to flying passengers after three months

Virgin Atlantic secures £1.2bn bail-out