Virgin Atlantic PR chief Sarah Coggins departs

Virgin Atlantic's top PR professional, Sarah Coggins, left the airline last week and will not be directly replaced, PRWeek can reveal.

The British airline’s vice-president for integrated communications (pictured) departed on Thursday. It is understood Coggins’ role will be replaced with two positions: a vice-president for marketing, and a head of PR.

In a statement Virgin Atlantic (VA) said: "We can confirm Sarah has decided to leave Virgin Atlantic. We will certainly be sad to see Sarah go, but one of the many contributions she has made to Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays has been to build a superbly talented PR team, so she leaves us in great hands. We would like to thank Sarah for her tremendous contributions and accomplishments over the years and we wish her all the best in the future."

Coggins, ranked number two in PRWeek’s Power Book travel top 10 for 2018, said: "I have loved every moment in the Virgin family and I will miss working with such an amazing team. I am planning to take a little time to make sure that the next adventure is the right one for me and just as exciting."

Coggins has been with Virgin Atlantic since 2011. She joined, from her role as easyJet’s comms manager, as VA’s New York-based head of comms for North America. She has since performed a number of senior PR and marketing roles before being catapulted into the top job in April 2017, when comms director Meghan Terry departed the airline.

VA has been through a turbulent time of late. Charismatic founder and figurehead Sir Richard Branson recently reduced his stake in the airline to 20 per cent, selling 31 per cent to KLM-Air France. Delta Airlines continues to hold a 49 per cent stake.

The airline posted a £28m pre-tax loss last year, compared to a profit in 2016, as a weak pound hit demand for flights from the UK and made it tougher to compete with discount long-haul carriers such as Norwegian Air.

It was recently announced that VA’s chief executive Craig Kreeger would retire at the end of this year, being replaced by commercial head Shai Weiss on 1 January 2019.

Read next:

'We're working with someone who knows PR very well' - inside Virgin Management's comms operation

Virgin Atlantic hires Weber Shandwick for consumer PR brief

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