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eGlobal Travel Media was correct – Scurrah out and Hrdlicka In at Virgin Australia

October 16, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

One has to feel for Paul Scurrah, current CEO of Virgin Australia, but only until November when new owners Bain Capital take over the troubled airline, with Bain Capital showing their real colours by kicking out the guy that kept the airline alive in the first place.

While  and other media have suspected this would happen for some time, with his incumbent successor loitering in the wings, including in an article yesterday, CLICK HERE it still seems to me a rather distasteful way to do business, but I suppose very sadly, that is how it is in the hard commercial world!

While Bain Capital had appeared to back Mr Scurrah, his now revealed successor Jayne Hrdlicka has been waiting in the wings to take over for some time since giving up here job as managing director, chief executive officer and director of The a2 Milk Company, from which she stepped down in December 2019, with some industry experts saying that she was waiting for the green light to take over at Virgin Australia, well before COVID-19 and the troubled airline hitting the wall, which simple delayed her descendance to the Virgin throne.

With Hrdlicka having an interesting history, she is from the USA, with from 2010 to 2012, she was a senior executive at Qantas, then in July 2012 group chief executive officer at Jetstar, taking over from Alan Joyce, which she held until July 2018 when she was appointed.

The Transport Workers Union, who suspended negotiations on new enterprise agreements at Virgin soon after reports emerged of Mr Scurrah’s planned exit had written to Bain Capital seeking confirmation about changes at the airline and to the federal government appealing again for it to protect jobs at the airline, with for certain they will not be at all happy with Hrdlicka’s appointment.

It appears that the main issue in a recent disagreement between Mr Scurrah and Bain Capital was around Mr Scurrah’s vision to keep Virgin as a full-service airline, after Bain Capital’s Mike Murphy said he wanted to re-build Virgin as a “hybrid” airline operating somewhere between Qantas and Jetstar, with others including unions and staff concerned that Virgin Australia would be stripped back to becoming a low cost carrier, very similar to and to compete with Jetstar, with Ms Hrdlicka’s appointment and her aviation experience as CEO of Jetstar appearing to confirm or at least supporting that concern.

There is concern about Bain Capital keeping to the basis under which it acquired Virgin Australia, with Deloitte administrator, Vaughan Strawbridge saying last week he had reaffirmed with Bain Capital that Virgin Australia would not be repositioned as a low-cost carrier, adding, “Virgin Australia will be a ‘hybrid’ airline, offering great value to customers by delivering a distinctive Virgin experience at competitive prices,” adding, “This will appeal to the full spectrum of travellers, from premium corporate through to more budget-focused customers.”

Whether that will come to fruition, we shall simply have to wait and see!

A report by John Alwyn-Jones

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