Virgin CEO Jayne Hrdlicka quits after ‘four years of heavy lifting’

Virgin Australia’s chief executive officer Jayne Hrdlicka will soon step down from leading Australia’s second-biggest airline after four years at the helm, abandoning the original plan to lead it through a long-awaited initial public offering process.

Virgin confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon and said Hrdlicka would stay on through a transitional period while the company commences a global search for her replacement.

Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka has announced she will leave the airline.
Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka has announced she will leave the airline. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but the last four years have been heavy lifting across the organisation during the toughest of times. We are in the midst of the next phase of our transformation program and there is a lot to do and an initial public offering to deliver,” Hrdlicka said.

“The next phase of this journey is another three to five years, making now the perfect juncture to begin the process of leadership transition to deliver the next few chapters of what I’m sure will be a significant long-term success story,” Hrdlicka said.

The airline, owned by private equity firm Bain Capital, had been considering relaunching Virgin on the Australian Securities Exchange in the first half of this calendar year, although Bain has not confirmed this plan publicly.

A Bain spokesperson declined to comment about how Hrdlicka’s departure would affect this timeline, but sources close to the company said it was unlikely the business would consider an initial public offer until a new chief executive was appointed.

Virgin chairman Ryan Cotton said Hrdlicka led the business through its most turbulent time in its 20-year history.

“While this will feel too early for many of you, it is very understandable given how tough it has been, getting us back in shape through a difficult time in the industry and the forward commitment through IPO and beyond is significant,” Cotton said in an email to Virgin employees on Tuesday.

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