Luke Goggin, Virgin Atlantic
Three months into his new role as Virgin Atlantic Vice President Global Sales, we check in with Luke Goggin
Since joining Virgin Atlantic, It’s been a whirlwind three months for Luke Goggin. He’s been immersing himself in “Virgin Atlantic life”, spending “quality time” with the airline’s global sales team, sampling the in-flight experience of both Virgin Atlantic and joint venture partner Delta, and making his first visit to the infamous Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, enjoying a barista-made flat white, or two.
“Before joining, the thing I was most excited by was the focus that Virgin Atlantic has on its people,” he says. “Lots of organisations say this but it’s been amazing to experience that Virgin Atlantic truly lives by that philosophy. It’s in everyone’s DNA, which makes it an amazing place to work.”
Virgin Atlantic’s close relationship with Delta has meant Goggin has already clocked up some air miles making two trips to Delta’s head office in Atlanta to get acquainted with the Delta leadership team.
“Together we are 100% clear,” he explains. “We remain focused on the business travel industry. We will continue to invest our time and resources on this valuable channel and we will continue to work incredibly hard to build and maintain valuable partnerships right across the business travel ecosystem.”
The two airlines are coming up to their 10th anniversary as JV partners next year and have more transatlantic flights than ever. Together they now fly 38 times a day between the UK and the US, including 11 flights a day between the UK and New York.
“Along with our friends at Delta, Air France and KLM, we now represent more than 25% of all transatlantic flying – and there’s more to come in 2024,” says Goggin.
“We are incredibly hungry to grow our market share and we come to work every day to make that happen. There is a great energy across the team”
So, what is Virgin Atlantic’s strategy in the corporate market? “It’s an interesting time in the airline world,” says Goggin. “While some airlines are downsizing their engagement with the industry, we are doing the opposite and focusing in on our business travel partners and business customers. We’ve seen a strong business travel recovery that’s been building all year and it seems that where we are now is looking like a new normal. Our customers tell us they’re upbeat about travel volumes for the fourth quarter and into 2024.
“Across the board we see strong share from our key customers, which is a testament to our fantastic operational performance out of London Heathrow, our amazing new fleet, with an average age of just six and a half years.”
Earlier this year saw the launch of Virgin Atlantic for Business. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve doubled the size of our corporate account team, upweighted our internal support teams and provided our partners with new tools and information to specifically support business travel,” he says.
The airline has also established a Corporate Advisory Board, a collective of 15 corporate travel buyers, which connects quarterly to review and feedback on initiatives, “ensuring Virgin Atlantic stays focused on the issues that matters most to the sector”.
“I get my energy from people and really enjoy working with my team, our customers, and partners and all my stakeholders across Virgin Atlantic, Delta and our Joint Venture partners. My aim is to bring my own energy and focus to all of these relationships and do everything I can to help our teams and airline stay focused on our relationships across the business travel industry. We have such an amazing story to tell and I’m looking forward to working with all my contacts to bring that to life,” says Goggin.
“We are incredibly hungry to grow our market share and we come to work every day to make that happen. There is a great energy across the team.”
“While some airlines are downsizing their engagement with the industry, we are doing the opposite and focusing in on our business travel partners and business customers”
This winter Virgin Atlantic launches routes to Dubai, The Maldives and Turks and Caicos, and in March 2024 it launches a new daily service to Bengaluru, its third destination and fourth daily service to India.
“Bengaluru is a great addition to our network for our corporate customers, being the tech hub of India and one of the largest corporate markets in the country,” he says.
“I’ve never been to India so I can’t wait to experience the culture and diversity and meet all our fantastic partners there. At the same time, we’re adding more capacity to our top business travel routes such as New York and Boston.”
A new daily service to Brazil’s key hub, São Paulo, launches later in 2024, offering business travellers the opportunity to fly to South America “Virgin Atlantic style”.
A partnership with LATAM opens 12 Brazilian gateways via São Paulo, giving even more choice and connectivity,” says Goggin.
And there are more new routes to come. “We’re always evolving both our product and our network, keeping our customers at the heart of all we do. There will be new news, and I’ll be back to share it when I can.”
In the meantime, Goggin will continue to familiarise himself with the Virgin product. He’s already grown attached to the Upper Class pyjamas. “I’m a big guy (6’2″) and some airline PJs don’t fit me very well, but the Virgin Atlantic PJs come in XL and were the perfect aid to a great night’s sleep.”
What are you priorities for the next few months?
I have a number of important things to focus on. I’ll be dedicating my time to meeting our most important customers and partners, attending some industry events and spending some quality time with my global sales team at our annual sales conference in London. On November 28, Virgin Atlantic will operate the first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) flight across the transatlantic. This is an industry first, and together with a host of aviation experts and the DFT, we will demonstrate that 100% SAF can be used safely within today’s existing infrastructure. I’m very excited by this. A huge amount of work going on with a consortium of industry and government partners to make the flight a reality, where we will be able to prove that if the UK can produce enough SAF, we can fly with it. It’s a big challenge but then Virgin Atlantic has been challenging the status quo for 40 years.
What do you think will be your biggest challenges?
I will challenge myself to continue to learn. It’s incredibly refreshing to be thinking about similar topics through a completely different lens and I’m really enjoying the stretch.
Window or aisle seat?
Always window. I love to watch the London skyline when we come in on a westerly approach, especially at dusk as the lights come on across the city. The views all the way down the Thames are awe inspiring.
What’s your preference for in-flight entertainment?
I prefer box sets that I can work through over multiple flights. Over the years I’ve completed Succession, Billions and at the moment I’m half way through the documentary about Dan Carter, the legendary All Blacks rugby player. If I want to relax, my guilty pleasure is a few episodes of Family Guy.
Luke Goggin joined Virgin Atlantic as Vice President Global Sales in August, taking over responsibility for the airline’s global sales performance, with direct accountability for all corporate and agency sales. Alongside joint venture partners Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM, he is also tasked with exploring new revenue growth opportunities with SkyTeam.