Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka announces shock resignation

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Virgin Australia has announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Hrdlicka, will be leaving the airline. Hrdlicka, who is said to be leaving “with the board’s support”, has decided to resign as CEO after less than four years in the role.  

The move comes while Virgin Australia prepares for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to improve its liquidity position as the carrier prepares for the next stage in its development. 

Hrdlicka has led Virgin Australia as CEO since her appointment in 2020 after the airline was acquired out of administration by Bain Capital and supported by Virgin Group during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hrdlicka has “guided the business out of the unprecedented period of lockdown and back into the skies,” the airline stated.  

Virgin Australia

“I have decided the time is right for me to signal CEO transition for this great airline and ultimately to pass the baton on,” Hrdlicka said. “This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but the last four years have been heavy lifting across the organization during the toughest of times. We are in the midst of the next phase of our transformation program and there is a lot to do and an IPO to deliver. The next phase of this journey is another three to five years, making now the perfect juncture to begin the process of leadership transition to deliver the next few chapters of what I’m sure will be a significant long-term success story. I would like to thank the board, the executive team, and all of the 7,500 fantastic people at Virgin Australia.” 

Hrdlicka also said she was “very proud of what the Virgin Australia team have accomplished together since the depths of administration and the COVID-19 pandemic.”  

The board of Virgin Australia will shortly commence a global search process for a new CEO. 

“Jayne has led Virgin Australia through the most turbulent times of its 20+ year history,” said Virgin Australia Chairman Ryan Cotton. “Her leadership was fundamental to repositioning the airline back to its roots as a value carrier, returning Virgin Australia to profitability for the first time in 11 years. It has laid a strong foundation for continued growth and margin expansion that will underpin Virgin Australia’s competitive position in the Australian market.” 

“To do this required a lot of heavy lifting and the rebuilding of many parts of our organization. A big part of this was resetting our talent pipeline for the long term, which serves us very well now. These are significant achievements, and we will soon commence looking for a new CEO to continue our transformation journey,” he added.  

“The board and I respect Jayne’s decision and know she is very committed to ensuring our continued success. We are grateful for her continued leadership while we plan for a successful CEO transition.” 

Virgin Australia

As the airline formulates its plans in terms of the IPO, Virgin Australia faces headwinds from local competitors and other issues as it begins preparation for the proposed IPO. Competition from carriers such as Bonza and to a degree, Rex Airlines, as well as the might of Qantas Group-owned Jetstar all make the Australian market a tough one to operate in currently. Additionally, Virgin Australia has also faced industrial action from cabin crew in the past 12 months.  

The airline currently operates a fleet of 87 Boeing 737s made up of nine 737-700s, 75 737-800s, and three 737 MAX 8s with a further 30 on order.  

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