Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka to resign ahead of IPO

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka to resign ahead of IPO

Outgoing Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

Having taken charge at airline Virgin Australia during the height of the pandemic after it was acquired by Bain Capital for $3.5 billion, CEO Jayne Hrdlicka is now headed for the departures lounge as the group gears up for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Her decision to transition out of the role, with the board's support, comes after a return to profitability in FY23 and a strong first half of FY24, marking the end of an almost four-year journey of intensive work and transformation amidst the dual challenges of administration and navigating the changing winds of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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 says.

"This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but the last four years have been heavy lifting across the organisation 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 3-5 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."

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

"I would like to thank the board, the executive team, and all of the 7,500 fantastic people at Virgin Australia," says the outgoing CEO, who has also been the president and chair of Tennis Australia since 2017, and was also previously CEO of A2 Milk Company (ASX: A2M) and Jetstar Group.

"We have exceptional people throughout our great airline who will continue delivering award-winning service to travellers throughout Australia and strong returns to our shareholders.

"I would also like to thank Bain Capital as a major shareholder for their support and trust in me as I’ve led the team over the last four years."

Virgin Australia chairman Ryan Cotton says Hrdlicka has led Virgin Australia through the most turbulent times of its 20-plus year history.

"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," Cotton says.

"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 rebuild of many parts of our organisation. 

"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.

"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 successful CEO transition."

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