Not only is Delta Air Lines ( DAL) losing money, the nation's third-largest carrier is losing executives, too.

On Friday morning, the airline announced that Chief Operating Officer Frederic Reid will be leaving the company on April 1 to become CEO of Virgin's forthcoming U.S. airline.

"Fred Reid has been an asset to Delta during his more than six years with us and we all wish him well in his future endeavors," said Delta CEO Gerald Grinstein in a statement. "Looking ahead, Delta has great talent and a deep bench, which we will use to fill in behind Fred. We will continue to run an industry-leading operation thanks to the efforts of the many dedicated people at this airline."

Grinstein will assume the position of COO while the company looks for a replacement, but the departure of Reid comes at a critical time for the company. Delta, which lost $1.3 billion last year and is looking for wage concessions from unionized pilots, is working on a plan to revitalize the airline. Company management said the plan will be out in July.

Reid, a former president of Lufthansa, joined Delta in 1998 and was a leading candidate for the CEO office that was vacated by Leo Mullin last year. Reid's move jumpstarts Virgin's soon-to-be-announced plan to launch a low-cost U.S. carrier, which is expected to come before the end of the year.

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