Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced the departure of its chief executive Steve Rigdway, who had spent 11 years leading Virgin Atlantic, and bringing a closure to a 23-year association with Virgin Atlantic.
The Richard Branson-owned company disclosed that Ridgway had spilled his plans of departure with Branson at the beginning of the year and would now help Virgin Atlantic to hunt for his successor.
Sir Richard Branson has been hit by Rigdway’s decision to step down, and described him as “close friend and confidant since the early days of Virgin Atlantic. He has been a hands-on, inspirational leader and has shaped the airline into the company it is today.”
Branson also said, “Steve’s industry knowledge and business acumen has ensured Virgin Atlantic remains a consumer favourite. He will be very much involved with the airline into next year and will doubtlessly be involved in other Virgin projects as we value his skills so highly.”
Announcing his exit, Rigdway said, “My time with Virgin Atlantic has been nothing short of an adventure. I’ve seen many great times and a few bad. I am confident that the airline will continue to soar and enjoy success for many years to come.”
62-year-old Rigdway had worked on Branson’s transatlantic powerboat trips in the 1980s, and joined Virgin Atlantic in 1989 and became chief executive in 2001. Rigdway said his yearly pay of £350,000 was “not as high as I’d like it to be and my bosses know that.”
Rigdway leaves behind an unenviable job to his successor as Virgin Atlantic struggles with high fuel prices, a sluggish British economy and tough competition.