VIRGIN Australia chief executive John Borghetti (pictured) says he is focusing on the challenges at Australia’s No.2 airline rather than being caught up in an industrial dispute at his previous employer Qantas.
“To be honest, I’m so focused on our business that I’m not watching what they (Qantas) are doing,” he says.
It has been a baptism of fire for Borghetti, the man appointed in May last year to lift the former Virgin Blue - now Virgin Australia - out of its slump and onto the radar of Australia’s burgeoning domestic travel sector.
Borghetti negotiated a remuneration package reportedly worth up to $3.5 million a year. While bigger than predecessor Godfrey's $2.7m, it is less than the $5m plus earned by Qantas chief Alan Joyce and a way off the $4.9m package Borghetti was on during his final year at Qantas.
After losing out to Joyce as the replacement to CEO Geoff Dixon, Borghetti left Qantas in April 2010. He spent 36 years with the flying kangaroo and helmed its domestic and international operations.
The onus is on Borghetti to fly Virgin Australia out of the fog following natural disasters, the Navitaire booking system failure in October 2010 and plummeting FY11 profits of $67.8 million.
“Were an airline, it’s never smooth sailing,” he says.
“The important thing in aviation is that there are events that happen in a business. The other thing is that it’s always at the forefront – it’s a very newsworthy industry.
“When you’re repositioning an airline to the extent that Virgin Australia has, it is difficult given the year we have had – natural disasters and trying to initiate as we go through significant change.”
Borghetti is confident the company’s ‘game change program’ will continue to achieve milestones and on track for material benefits in FY12.
It includes a re-launch of the airline with major product changes and the development of a global virtual network - Etihad Airways, Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines and Singapore Airlines. The airline also reached an agreement with Virgin Atlantic to code share on their Sydney to Hong Kong service from early 2012.
“It will set us on a solid and good course going forward. These important alliances contribute significantly to tourism,” says Borghetti.
For the full story on John Borghetti and the future of Virgin get your copy of Brisbane Business News – out now in more than 500 greater Brisbane newsagents.
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