Steve Ridgway CBE (b. 1951) is the former Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Atlantic Airways, and oversaw a period of significant expansion during his 23 year service with the airline.
Steve grew up on a farm in Devon and went to school in Kingsbridge before attending Oxford Brookes University where he gained a degree in Economics, awarded by the University of London. He worked for Cavenham Foods as a sales manager, and briefly became a teacher. He then moved to Miami and worked for two years as Business Development Manager at the Toleman Group, a builder of power boats. From 1981–85, he worked for Cougar Marine, who built the Virgin boats. During this time he was the Project Head and Chief Pilot on the two Virgin Atlantic Challengers, designing and developing the boats, which culminated in successfully re-capturing the Blue Riband record for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic, and began his long association with Sir Richard Branson.
Joining Virgin Atlantic in 1989, Steve became Managing Director of Virgin Freeway the following year. He became a board director in 1994 and was appointed as Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic in 1998, becoming Chief Executive in October 2001. He announced his retirement as CEO of Virgin Atlantic in 2012, and left the company in 2013, having overseen its growth from operating just two Boeing 747s in 1989 to a fleet of 40 long-haul aircraft at the time of his departure. In 2014, Steve was appointed Chairman of Scandlines, one of the largest ferry operators in the Baltic Sea.
In 2006, Steve was awarded the CBE for services to aviation in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Steve was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2013.