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New Virgin Australia chief has shining travel background

February 7, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Virgin Australia’s new chief Paul Scurrah has an impressive travel industry background, having worked at various times with Travel Centre, Qantas, American Express, Australian Airlines, Ansett and Tourism Queensland – even serving on the board of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

Virgin Australia Holdings’ appointment of travel and logistics expert Scurrah as its chief executive and managing director, to succeed outgoing John Borghetti – had already been tipped by both The Australian newspaper and the Australian Financial Review.

Other contenders were in the running, with The Australian having previously named as a possibility chief executive of Scandinavia’s SAS, Rickard Gustafson. Hawaiian chief executive Mark Dunkerley was also mentioned at one stage.

Borghetti announced in June 2018 that he would not renew his contract past the end of 2019.  He will step down on 25 March 2019.

Scurrah has held many senior industry positions. A few years ago he became the first independent chairman of the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW), which is owned by Tourism Australia and all the State and Territory government tourism organisations.

Virgin Australia Holdings said Scurrah has been appointed following an extensive global search.

In an issued statement, Virgin Australia Group chairman Elizabeth Bryan said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Paul Scurrah as Virgin Australia Group CEO and managing director. Paul is a highly regarded business leader in Australia and his appointment is testament to his strong leadership credentials which include more than 20 years’ experience in transport, logistics, travel and aviation.”

Bryan continued:

“Most recently, Paul has held CEO roles at DP World Australia and Queensland Rail, as well as Executive General Management roles at Aurizon, Flight Centre and Tourism Queensland.

“During his time at DP World Australia, Paul led the business through significant industry change, improved commercial performance, delivered substantial improvements in safety and culture, and increased customer and staff satisfaction to the highest levels in the company’s history.

“The Board received enormous interest in the role both locally and internationally and Paul’s highly relevant transport and logistics expertise, and strong commercial background make him the ideal candidate to consolidate the Group’s achievements and continue to build momentum into the future.

“Paul’s significant leadership in driving transformation and improving customer satisfaction in complex and challenging businesses is highly impressive, and his background in aviation provides the right foundation to steer the Virgin Australia Group into the future.

“Paul inherits a strong business and we are confident he is well placed to deliver the next phase of the Group’s strategy.”

Paul Scurrah (right) with John Borghetti yesterday

Scurrah said: “Leading the Virgin Australia Group is an immense honour and privilege. The Group has positioned itself as a real competitor in the market with its ability to deliver across all segments and I am excited to be joining such a progressive and innovative business. I look forward to meeting the team and building on the Group’s success.”

Scurrah officially commences in his role on 25 March 2019 and will also join the VAH Board as an executive director on this date. He resides in Brisbane and will divide his time between the Virgin Australia Group operational headquarters located in Brisbane and the Group’s corporate headquarters in Sydney.

Commenting on Borghetti’s tenure, Bryan said: “John has been a dedicated and talented CEO and Managing Director for the Virgin Australia Group for the past eight years. He pioneered a major transformation in the aviation industry to reposition the airline as a formidable competitor across all segments of the market.

“John has made a significant mark on the aviation industry as a whole and Australian travellers have benefited because of his commitment and dedication to improving airline travel. The Board and I are grateful for his leadership and transformation of the airline into the diversified group that it is today.”

Written by Peter Needham

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