Aviation

Virgin Australia snares Qantas’ chief operations officer

Virgin Australia Group has announced the appointment of Paul Jones to the newly created position of chief customer and digital officer.

Jones joins Virgin from Qantas, where he has spent more than nine years holding multiple senior roles including chief operations officer, chief information officer and executive manager of customer and digital strategy.

Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said Jones’ deep aviation experience will be an asset to the airline throughout its critical period of transformation.

“I have known Paul for a long time, having worked closely with him during my time at Qantas, and I am thrilled we’ve been able to attract him to Virgin Australia,” she said.

“Investing in technology and having a laser-sharp focus on the customer are two critical pieces of our transformation, as we move towards being a mid-market carrier that is Australia’s most-loved airline.

“Paul will bring a wealth of knowledge to the executive leadership team at Virgin Australia and we can’t wait to welcome him to the family in 2021.”

Jones’ appointment is the latest change to Virgin’s new-look executive team, having recently farewelled chief strategy officer Michael Jones, general manager of sales Ann Elliott, GM of alliances and international sales Phil Squires, and chief experience officer Danielle Keighery.

Elliott has since resurfaced at Regional Express as its new sales boss.

In other Virgin-related news, the airline has raised the frequent flyer stakes even higher, expanding the eligibility of its Velocity Discover Gold Status match offer to include eligible frequent flyer members of Oneworld partner airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, and Air New Zealand.

Originally offered to Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members, the expanded eligibility follows an overwhelming number of requests from members of Oneworld airline partners since the offer was first announced last week.

Eligible approved members who submit a short expression of interest form on the Velocity website will receive a Velocity Discover Gold Status trial membership for three months.

In a further win for eligible members, Virgin has extended the offer end date to 4 January 2021, giving members an additional two weeks to apply.

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