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21 Mar 2018

BY Jennifer Morris

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TRFBLI

Virgin boss ‘confident’ about open skies talks

The government’s open skies discussions are “progressing as they should be”, according to the chief executive of Virgin Atlantic.

Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic
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Craig Kreeger: “I feel the Brexit situation has encouraged the government to seek input. And that’s a positive”

Speaking at Airlines UK’s latest lecture in London last week, Craig Kreeger said beyond the exchange rate impact of Brexit, the airline was now focused on pushing for a deal on traffic rights.


A bilateral agreement between the US and UK will be needed post-Brexit, as Britain leaving the EU will remove it from the EU open skies agreement with the US. It was reported earlier this month that such an agreement could stall.


“These secret talks are not all that secret,” said Kreeger in reference to the reports. He revealed that a member of staff from Virgin Atlantic and a number of other airline representatives participate.


“That gives me a platform to say that we are incredibly confident that they’re progressing as they should be,” said Kreeger.


“It’s urgent that they progress. We do need the government in both countries to remain focused on this, because while we remain confident that there will be no fundamental change – and it’s not really been on my radar as a business risk – making our customers or potential customers nervous is not helpful to our business.


“Whether I think it’s a risk doesn’t necessarily matter – if people are reporting that it is, it will make our customers nervous.”


Kreeger added that another area of consideration with regard to Brexit was the UK’s membership of Easa – the European Aviation Safety Agency.


“I have not met anyone who wants to see the UK out of Easa,” he continued. “We support the UK remaining under the guise of that. We see no upside to change.”


Asked for his outlook at the end of his speech, Kreeger insisted he was “fundamentally upbeat”.


“There’s a lot to be done and things I’d like to see changed,” he said.


“I feel the Brexit situation has encouraged the government to seek input. And that’s a positive,” he added.

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