LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - British airline Virgin Atlantic on Thursday said Chief Executive Craig Kreeger would retire at the end of the year and will be replaced by the airline's chief commercial officer.
The airline said it would launch its mid-range corporate plan Velocity in 2019 and Kreeger, who was appointed CEO in February 2013, said it was a good time to hand over to CCO Shai Weiss.
"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," he said in a statement.
Kreeger has said that he expects a deal for Air France-KLM to buy a stake in the airline from Richard Branson's Virgin Group to be completed early next year.
The decision last year by Delta, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic to rejig their transatlantic alliances was designed to strengthen the carriers in the face of competition from low-cost entrants.
Branson paid tribute to Kreeger's work to bring the airline closer to Delta, and said that Weiss was the right person to take Virgin Atlantic forward.
"The next few years are exciting as we build on the opportunities created by our expanded partnership with Delta and Air France-KLM to bring in more new planes and access to more routes," he said.
"I've worked closely with Shai for more than a decade and know his drive, commitment and passion mean the airline and our amazing people are in great hands." (Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Adrian Croft)