Daily Management Review

Virgin Australia CEO Predicts Surge In Summer Travel, Says Flying Will Be ‘Irresistible’


Virgin Australia CEO Predicts Surge In Summer Travel, Says Flying Will Be ‘Irresistible’
It will be “irresistible” to fly again, believes the newly appointed CEO of Virgin Australia, with the airline targeting to regain market share under the new ownership.
The company is placed in a good position to take over one third of the domestic market, Jayne Hrdlicka said in a television interview, while also reinstating the airline’s market share to pre-Covid levels as Australia see resumption of travelling within its territory.
“We’re three weeks under new ownership, we’ve got the strongest balance sheet of any airline in the country right now, and by the time we get to January ... we fully intend to be roughly a third of the domestic market. That’s what we were pre-Covid,” Hrdlicka said in an interview.
Hrdlicka previously was the head of the budget carrier Jetstar which is a subsidiary of Qantas. The airline named her as the successor to Paul Scurrah in October which was a part of a strategy of the new owners of the airlines, Bain Capital, to resurrect the fortunes of the failing airline after it was sent to voluntary administration in April.
The appointment of Hrdlicka also happened at the beginning of the summer season in Australia where authorities have largely opened up its domestic borders with decrease in the number of coronavirus cases.
“It will be irresistible to fly again,” said Hrdlicka. “We’re in a great spot as a country now. We’re able to get out, spend time with other people, and we can travel,” she added.
“It’s our job as Virgin Australia to do as much of the heavy lifting as we can, fly as much as possible, get as many of our people back to work as possible, and enable Australia to really enjoy December and January,” Hrdlicka said.
After its lapse in the first half of the year, regain customers is now at the core of the strategies of Virgin Australia. A new frequent flyer program targeted at passengers who choose to travel prior to March 28, 2021 was launched by the airline earlier this week. This was an attempt by the airline to outsmart competitor Qantas which had come up with a similar promotional program.
The competition was “as it should be”, Hrdlicka said. But it was “too early” to make a call on international travel, she added which were in contrast to comments made earlier by the Qantas CEO Alan Joyce who last month had said that it would require vaccination for all international travellers to make that happen.
“We’ll be listening and learning, working closely with the government, and we’ll make a call on it once it’s more obvious what the right answer is,” she said.