Virgin Australia‘s Paul Scurrah will step down as Chief Executive Officer of the airline once the sale to Bain Capital is complete. He is expected to remain on board as CEO and Managing Director until that time, which is expected in early November 2020.
On his impending move, Scurrah noted in a media statement that ‘the time felt right’ and ‘the business will be in good hands’.
Over the last 18 months, I have had the great privilege of being the CEO and Managing Director of the Virgin Australia Group. Whilst it has been the most challenging time in aviation history, I have continued to be so proud of the way my team and our entire organisation has fought to save this airline and to keep competition alive and well in Australia.
We have succeeded in not just ensuring the future of the company, but also reset the business to ensure it is well placed to deliver for Bain Capital for many years to come.– Paul Scurrah, outgoing Virgin Australia CEO
Scurrah’s shock exit comes as tensions soared high over a clash of his vision of a ‘value-based’ full-service airline, against Bain’s desire to reposition the embattled airline down a few notches, with fewer premium flourishes.
Revamped Virgin to remain as a ‘hybrid’
However, Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge reaffirmed that Virgin Australia would not be repositioned as a low-cost carrier.
Virgin Australia will be a ‘hybrid’ airline, offering great value to customers by delivering a distinctive Virgin experience at competitive prices. This will appeal to the full spectrum of travellers, from premium corporate through to more budget-focused customers.– Vaughan Strawbridge, Deloitte
It’s unclear what this means for travellers exactly, but it’s been hinted that some form of Business Class will survive and most (but possibly not all) Virgin Australia domestic lounges will re-open at some point.
Ex-Jetstar boss expected to step up
Scurrah confirmed that former Jetstar Group CEO and Bain partner, Jayne Hrdlicka, is likely to take the reigns of the renewed airline once he steps down in November 2020.
It is the intention that Jayne Hrdlicka will be appointed by Bain Capital as CEO once the transaction is complete, in early November. Jayne has strong aviation credentials. She is very focused on seeing the business succeed and I wish Virgin Australia well under her leadership.”– Paul Scurrah, outgoing Virgin Australia CEO
There has previously been much speculation about the role of Hrdlicka in Virgin Australia’s ascendency out of voluntary administration. Although she was previously tipped to have a seat in the boardroom, her recent move to Brisbane sparked rumours that she would be playing a bigger role.
Hrdlicka can boast plenty of experience with running airline operations, having previously been a senior executive at Qantas for two years before taking up the top job at Jetstar until July 2018.
As for Virgin’s future flight path, more details are expected to be released in the coming months once Bain firms up the purchase of the airline.