He worked for Cavenham Foods (owned by Sir James Goldsmith and later sold to Générale Occidentale) as a sales manager, and briefly became a teacher. He moved to Miami and began his business career working for a builder of power boats, Ted Toleman. He worked for two years as Business Development Manager at the Toleman Group. One of these boats was the Virgin Atlantic Challenger, and he became the Chief Pilot. From 1981–1985 he worked for Cougar Marine, who built the Virgin boats.
He joined Virgin Atlantic in 1989. In 1990, he became managing director of Virgin Freeway. He became a board director in 1994. Formerly Virgin Atlantic's vice-president of customer services, he was appointed as managing director of Virgin Atlantic in April 1998. He became Chief Executive in October 2001.
He announced his retirement as CEO of Virgin Atlantic on 10 September 2012, and left the company on 1 February 2013.
Ridgway has three children and lives in London and Sussex. His children were educated at St Edward's School, Oxford the same school where Sir Richard Branson had his children educated. He enjoys sailing and fast cars. He was awarded a CBE in the 2006 New Year Honours.
- Virgin Atlantic
- Sunday Times - Andrew Davidson January 2009
- Daily Mail February 2008
- The Times (London), 28 August 2006: Powers in the boardroom - No plain sailing for Virgin chief
- BBC News: Virgin staff 'shocked' by pilot Includes photo of Ridgway and his statement following the arrest of a Virgin Atlantic pilot.