Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has announced that he will step down from the role in 2020.
In an announcement posted to the ASX, the airline said that Borghetti "has advised the Board that he will not renew his contract post 1 January 2020."
"Mr Borghetti has signalled his desire to depart by this date to enable the Group ample time to recruit an incoming CEO and allow for an appropriate transition."
After eight years helming the airline, Borghetti remarked it has been "a privilege to serve as CEO of the Virgin Australia Group and to lead a wonderful team of 10 000 people. By notifying the board of my intentions now, it provides them with appropriate time to conduct a thorough recruitment process and for me to support the transition."
“In the interim, I look forward to continuing in the role of CEO and I remain focused on delivering the goals of the Virgin Australia Group,” he added.
A 45 year veteran of the aviation industry, Borghetti – the son of working class Italian immigrants to Australia – famously started his career in the Qantas mailroom in 1973, aged 17 years.
He delights in recounting how he first set his eyes on a job with Qantas: sitting in a theatre with his best schoolmate to see the James Bond film Live and Let Die, the 007 flick was preceded by a featurette showing the Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro "showing all these beautiful, half-naked women," Borghetti has often recalled.
Borghetti and his friend quickly agreed they needed to get to Rio – but how? Working for an airline would be the means to a cheap ticket to Brazil.
Over the next 35 years the driven and hard-working Borghetti had climbed Qantas' corporate ladder one rung at a time from mailboy to sales rep to Executive General Manager – where he assumed responsibility for the airline's debut of the Airbus A380 and the creation of its award-winning first class lounges and invitation-only Chairman's Lounge.
But in July 2008 he lost out on the prized role of Qantas CEO to then-Jetstar chief Alan Joyce.
Borghetti resigned early the following year, and in May 2010 took the helm at Virgin Blue, embarking on transformation to turn the decidedly low-cost airline into a Qantas competitor with a broader customer base than just the bottom end of the leisure market.
With the airline quickly rebadged as Virgin Australia, Borghetti oversaw the launch of domestic and later trans-Tasman business class, upgraded its east-west Airbus A330 business class seats – a move which arguably spurred Qantas to its launch its Airbus A330 Business Suite product – developed a lounge network including the invitation-only The Club, and relaunched the Velocity frequent flyer program to sharpen its edge against the powerhouse Qantas loyalty program.
In more recent times Borghetti saw the airline's US-bound Boeing 777 fleet upgraded with what's now regarded as the best business class on the trans-Pacific route and pushed for expansion into Asia with flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Hong Kong.
A famously well-dressed workaholic and car enthusiast, Borghetti can at least look forward to spending some time tinkering with and driving a few favourites from his Porsche-heavy collection cars, although he's expected to take on a number of boardroom director roles post-2020.
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