New Virgin boss unveils plan to resurrect airline

Virgin Australia’s new chief executive, Jayne Hrdlicka, has unveiled her grand plans to resurrect the airline from its financial woes, sparked by the coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Ms Hrdlicka said the new Virgin would target the mid-market of the aviation industry and would cater to price-conscious travellers wanting a premium experience.

“Australia already has a low-cost carrier and a traditional full-service airline, and we won’t be either,” she said, in reference to Jetstar and Qantas, respectively.

“Virgin Australia will be a mid-market carrier appealing to customers who are after a great value airfare and better service.”

Virgin Australia collapsed in April and went into voluntary administration following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with debts of 6.8 billion.

Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration following the onset of the pandemic. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Christian GillesSource:News Corp Australia

Ms Hrdlicka replaces Paul Scurrah as CEO who announced his resignation in October.

The former boss of rival airline Jetstar between 2012 and 2017 said the Adelaide COVID-19 cluster outbreaks highlighted the ongoing uncertainty plaguing the travel market, but demand for flights was improving.

“As we have seen with the recent issues with South Australia, the travel market remains uncertain. We are however seeing some positive signs of recovery,” she said.

“We expect continued volatility, but as demand recovers, we’ll achieve a market share consistent with our pre-COVID position and continue to invest in, and grow, the fleet in line with increases in demand.”

Virgin Australia has also confirmed all its lounges will reopen on Wednesday, however Darwin, Cairns and Mackay lounges would permanently close and its Canberra lounge remains under review.

The airline will retain its regional flight business and expects to retain one-third of the Australian aviation market, which it held before the health crisis.

No changes will be made to its Velocity frequent flyer program and will be the only domestic airline to offer three different seating classes.

International private equity firm Bain Capital acquired Virgin following its entry into voluntary administration for $700 million.

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