AMR executive to become Virgin Atlantic CEO

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Virgin Atlantic Airways has hired a top American Airlines executive to become its CEO.

U.K.-based Virgin said Tuesday that Craig Kreeger will join the airline on Feb. 1, replacing Steve Ridgeway. The company announced in September that Ridgeway would retire early this year.

Kreeger, 53, has been American's senior vice president of customer service and will compete against his longtime employer in the key U.S.-Europe market. Delta Air Lines Inc. announced last month that it would buy Singapore Airlines' 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic and seek antitrust immunity to set prices and schedules on each other's trans-Atlantic flights.

Virgin Atlantic fought American's bid for antitrust immunity to collaborate with British Airways on the same routes. Virgin Atlantic was founded by British billionaire Richard Branson and serves 30 destinations including London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Kreeger joined American in 1985 as an analyst and spent six years in London overseeing the airline's sales and operations across Europe.

American Airlines, owned by Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., issued a press release thanking Kreeger for his service and naming vice president of operations planning Jonathan D. Snook to replace him.

Snook joined American as an airport agent in England before moving up to other operations and sales jobs.