Virgin Australia reboots as Hrdlicka takes the reins

Australian airline commits to triple-class domestic product

Virgin Australia‘s new CEO and Managing Director, Jayne Hrdlicka, has this week taken over the Australia airline and unveiled the carrier’s future direction as a “mid-market” player.

Hrdlicka replaced Paul Scurrah after Virgin Australia exited voluntary administration. Under her leadership the airline will retain its core domestic lounge network in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast. It will also be the only carrier with a triple-cabin choice of seating; Business, Economy X and Economy.

New technology will provide a simplified check-in and airport experience, along with lower airfares, she said.

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Hrdlicka’s vision will see the airline compete in its “mid-market heartland”, offering guests who want a more premium experience at an affordable and competitive price.

Virgin Australia 2.0 will relaunch its Brisbane Lounge, effective immediately. A second refurbishment, planned for the Adelaide Lounge in Q1 2021 will become a prototype for existing facilities. The airline will add new self-service kiosks, assisted check-in and baggage drop facilities at mainline airports by the end of 2021.  It will also restructure Virgin Australia Regional Airlines to become “a more sustainable and profitable business”.

Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO and Managing Director, Virgin Australia

Other considerations going forward for Virgin Australia include;

  • an “end-to-end review” of its Business class product before relaunching next year
  • a new “buy onboard menu” to replace the existing snack offered in Economy class
  • a review of In-flight WiFi and Inflight Entertainment
  • the food and beverage menu at its lounge network
  • the closure of Lounges in Darwin, Cairns and Mackay (due to low visitation)

“Virgin Australia is an airline built on a 20-year history of exceptional customer service and delivering a great experience for millions of Australians,”Hrdlicka said on her first day on the job.

“Today, we exit voluntary administration with a renewed sense of who we are and who we are here to serve.” 

“It’s a privilege to join Virgin Australia as CEO at such an important moment. I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting and listening to our team and hearing their ideas. I’m impressed with their understanding of and passion for our guests and look forward to their continued input as we work to refine our plans and define our future together.”

“The travel environment is changing and so are our customers’ preferences. We know that leisure travellers, small and medium businesses, and many corporates are now emerging from COVID-19 wanting better value. They are hungry for flexibility and choice, a trusted brand that resonates with their values, and great prices, along with the premium features they value most,” Hrdlicka said.

“Today, we’ve announced a plan that will ultimately give our customers what they value without the big price tag: premium lounges, a new and fresh retail offering onboard, a choice of cabins, better digital technology and a more streamlined check-in experience. We will also continue to deliver our award-winning service, strong network of destinations, an award-winning frequent flyer program and a safe and reliable operation.

“Australia already has a low-cost-carrier and a traditional full-service airline, and we won’t be either.”

“Virgin Australia will be a mid-market carrier appealing to customers who are after a great value airfare and better service. We will continue to evolve our offering for our customers based on data and feedback, but the Virgin Australia experience millions of travellers know and love is here to stay.”

“We emerge today stronger, more competitive, and ready to face the challenges ahead. We removed an enormous amount of complexity from our business, greatly improved our cost base, and have an extraordinary team on the ground and in the air to deliver our new plan. We are more resilient than ever and have the backing of Bain Capital who are deeply invested in seeing us succeed over the long term.”

Hrdlicka’s career has included serving as a consultant for Bain & Company, the US corporation that acquired Virgin Australia, for the past six-months. She is the President and Chair of Tennis Australia, is currently a Board Member of Hawaiian Airlines, former CEO and Managing Director of the a2 Milk Company, former CEO of Qantas Loyalty and the Jetstar Group and was a Non Executive Board Member of the Woolworths Limited.

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