Aviation

More senior exec departures confirmed by Virgin Australia

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Virgin Australia’s executive team is set to have a whole new look post-administration, with the embattled airline confirming more departures.

It turns out that a number of senior execs have quietly exited the Virgin building since Bain Capital’s takeover deal was approved by creditors last month.

The airline confirmed to Travel Weekly recent reports that chief strategy officer Michael Jones, general manager of sales Ann Elliott and general manager of alliances and international sales Phil Squires are among those that are no longer at Virgin.

The executive exodus follows the resignation of chief experience officer Danielle Keighery back in August, who is understood to have joined the Bank of Queensland in a similar role.

Danielle Keighery

Yesterday, it was announced that Virgin CEO and managing director Paul Scurrah would step down from his role following the completion of the airline’s sale to Bain, which is expected to happen in early November.

His replacement will be former Jetstar CEO and Bain executive Jayne Hrdlicka, who was pivotal in the private equity firm’s bid.

However, business expert Dr Warren Staples from RMIT University said Hrdlicka’s appointment signals that Bain are looking to slash costs, improve the balance sheet, and exit via listing or making a quick sale – “a classic pump and dump strategy”.

“If Virgin do head down the lowest-cost path then it’s hard to see this price war with Jetstar ending successfully for them. It feels like the worst of Australian aviation history repeating,” he said.

“In a worrying sign that corporate Australia is perhaps too forgiving, Richard Branson has returned as a five per cent shareholder while paying for none of the cost of the previous iteration of Virgin’s failure.”


Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons/Commander Keane



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One response to “More senior exec departures confirmed by Virgin Australia”

  1. I agree with Dr. Staples…slash costs, sell out at a profit is the game. The real meaning of “hybrid” is yet to be made clear, but a middle positioning is a hard road to follow. Neither full service including a superior FF plan, nor the lowest low cost. So the only way to justify a middle position is brand differentiation plus a superior service culture that will persuade the market to pay more than JQ, who in turn will apply the screws on price. Nowhere to hide in that scenario. Also the staff will find it difficult to provide a great service culture when there’s clearly much disenchantment with the new owners. Virgin Atlantic succeeded launching in HKG in 1994 by having a differentiated product based on service and new products [Upper Class and Mid Class later rebranded as Premium Y] and of course the Branson effect.
    I can’t see that happening here and given Ms. Hrdlicka’s record at JQ, this seems like a clean-out job to me. It’s obvious it was the plan all along. There’s another maverick about to intrude in the shape of Rex [if it happens]…how on earth will they be positioned? This will be a fascinating case history for marketing lecturers in years to come.

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