Bain Capital reaffirms Virgin Australia will be a full service airline as CEO Scurrah departs

by James Wilkinson

Virgin Australia Group’s popular Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Paul Scurrah, is set to depart the airline in early November when the company is officially acquired by Bain Capital.

Scurrah will be succeeded by experienced aviation executive Jayne Hrdlicka, who was formely the CEO of Jetstar, Qantas Loyalty and most recently, the a2 Milk Company.

The departure of Scurrah was announced today (Oct 15) by the Deed Administrators of the Virgin Australia Group, led by Deloitte Restructuring Services partner, Vaughan Strawbridge, who praised the work of the executive during his time at the company.

“Paul has done an outstanding job supporting us through this process,” he said. “His exceptional leadership enabled us to stabilise the business and achieve a sale in a timely and orderly manner.

“It is a testament to his leadership that we have been able to complete this sale and the business is well positioned to play its vital role in the rebuilding of the Australian aviation industry and economy more broadly,” Strawbridge said.

Virgin Australia will re-emerge as a ‘hybrid’ airline under Bain Capital and (above) popular CEO Paul Scurrah is departing

He also said Virgin Australia would remain as a full-service carrier depsite media speculation the carrier would be changing models as part of Hrdlicka’s arrival.

“I know there has been speculation about the shape of the airline into the future, and I have reaffirmed with Bain Capital that Virgin Australia will not be repositioned as a low-cost carrier,” Strawbridge said.

“Virgin Australia will be a ‘hybrid’ airline, offering great value to customers by delivering a distinctive Virgin experience at competitive prices. This will appeal to the full spectrum of travellers, from premium corporate through to more budget-focused customers.”

Scurrah, who had been in the role for almost two years, said he was proud of his team and his achivements while at Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia will be operating an all-Boeing 737-800 fleet for the forseeable future

“Over the last 18 months, I have had the great privilege of being the CEO and Managing Director of the Virgin Australia Group,” he said. “Whilst it has been the most challenging time in aviation history, I have continued to be so proud of the way my team and our entire organisation has fought to save this airline and to keep competition alive and well in Australia.

“We have succeeded in not just ensuring the future of the company, but also reset the business to ensure it is well placed to deliver for Bain Capital for many years to come.

“Having seen the company through COVID-19, voluntary administration, the sale to Bain Capital and the redesign of the business, I will be stepping down as CEO and Managing Director at financial close of the DOCAs. I have made this decision after some long discussions with my family. The time feels right, and I know the business will be in good hands.

“I am proud of that work that has been completed to date to transition the business and remove complexity, allowing the airline to compete effectively once demand returns.

“I want to thank all of our team members who have continued to support and work tirelessly to get the company through to this stage. I will forever be proud of what we have done here. It is the people that make this airline the great place it is and I wish them all the best. I was extremely humbled by the warmth with which I was embraced on day one and for the unwavering support afforded to me throughout this ongoing major industry crisis.

Virgin Australia is expected to retain a Business Class offering on the Boeing 737-800 fleet

“I also want to thank Vaughan Strawbridge and his team at Deloitte as well as our legal and financial advisers for the major achievement and tireless efforts to ensure that Virgin Australia has a future. I won’t forget the support they provided me and the team.

“I have also appreciated working with Bain Capital in recent months and recognise the significant contribution they have made to Virgin Australia’s long-term future. They have demonstrated a deep understanding of aviation and our culture.

“It is the intention that Jayne Hrdlicka will be appointed by Bain Capital as CEO once the transaction is complete, in early November. Jayne has strong aviation credentials. She is very focused on seeing the business succeed and I wish Virgin Australia well under her leadership,” Scurrah said.

Bain Capital Managing Director, Mike Murphy, also praised Scurrah for his achivements at the carrier.

“Paul has provided the leadership to enable Virgin Australia to emerge from voluntary administration as a well-capitalised, best in class carrier,” he said. “His personal commitment and determination to lead Virgin Australia through such a turbulent period is a credit to him.”