Virgin Atlantic will “absolutely not” change under US chief executive Craig Kreeger and new US shareholder and partner Delta Air Lines.
Kreeger told Travel Weekly: “If it ends up feeling we have Americanised this company we’ll have failed.
“The essence of Virgin Atlantic is a combination of people and services that brings glamour. That is why we punch above our weight.
“That is what Delta is buying. That is what Delta needs – it needs us to be Virgin Atlantic.”
Kreeger expects confirmation of US anti-trust immunity for the carrier’s transatlantic joint venture with Delta “in the next two weeks”.
He said “a steady stream of announcements” would follow in the coming months.
Kreeger added: “We’re already code sharing. We should start to see more Delta customers flying on Virgin Atlantic and more of ours flying on Delta now.”
Virgin Atlantic unveiled a special £88 return fare on its Little Red flights between Heathrow and Edinburgh yesterday.
But Kreeger insisted: “Little Red is off to the start we expected.”
He declined to discuss average load factors on Little Red services between Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester and Heathrow, launched this spring, but said: “It’s growing.
“We never planned for big load factors. The key is building traffic on to other flights. Little Red is increasing the number of connections to our network.”
Kreeger took over as Virgin Atlantic chief executive in March and unveiled a recovery plan in May. He said: “We are absolutely on track to achieve what we set out.
“I was confident at the time [the plan was announced] because it was clear the key challenges facing Virgin Atlantic were already being addressed.
“The airline business lost about £128 million in the last fiscal year. But I saw enough happening to be confident we would get most of the way back [in a year].
“Little Red and Delta will create connecting traffic and generate revenue. All 10 of our new A330s will be flying this year and the more fuel-efficient fleet will save £50 million on last year.”
He said there would be additional benefits from “some fresh eyes on the business”, and added: “We planned for a little uptick in the UK economy – for 1% growth in GDP – and that is pretty much on track.
“Also, not having an Olympic Games has helped. We’ve seen a revenue picture a little better than anticipated.
“We have become more fuel efficient and we have more revenue. We’ll get most of the way there.”
Virgin Atlantic hosted its annual Agency Awards in London last night and Kreeger said: “A significant proportion of our revenue comes through the trade and we aim to see that increase.”
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