Rival airlines seek loyalty chiefs

Virgin Atlantic’s head of relationship marketing, Jeremy Simmonds, is leaving the airline to join American Express.

He is taking up the post of marketing director for corporate card UK at Amex. He was promoted to head of relationship marketing at Virgin Atlantic in August last year to replace Liz Brackley, who moved to become Virgin airport manager at London’s Gatwick Airport.

Simmonds had responsibility for Virgin Atlantic’s global frequent-flyer programme, Flying Club.

Rival British Airways is also looking for a head of loyalty to run its Executive Club programme following the departure of Chris Jansen, who has become managing director of the Air Miles Travel Company (MW May 27).

Virgin Atlantic is battling with British Airways for premium-class passengers. It relaunched its upper-class suite last July in direct competition with BA’s Clubworld flat-bed product. Flying Club members were targeted with direct mailings, e-mail campaigns and the creation of an online microsite.

Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R also created a television campaign for the upper-class suite, featuring rock star Alice Cooper.

BA is undertaking a company-wide restructure following the promotion of director of marketing and commercial development Martin George to commercial director in June. BA’s frequent-flyer reward programme, the Executive Club, will now be the responsibility of the new product department, which is headed by Simon Parkes-Smith.

The BA restructure also affects David Noyes, who has been transferred from the US to become head of UK & Ireland, overseeing head of marketing UK/Ireland Jayne O’Brien.

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