Outgoing Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey was farewelled by colleagues, key industry executives, political figures and media during a dinner at Sydney’s Ivy Room on May 5, shortly before his last official day as boss of the airline he co-founded with Sir Richard Branson 10 years ago.
Key founding Virgin Blue executives including former deputy CEO and COO Rob Sherrard and former head of commercial and head of strategy & communication David Huttner, plus incoming CEO John Borghetti, were joined by a range of industry figures including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe, former Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Mark Vaile, CASA CEO John McCormick, Sydney Airport CEO Russell Balding, figures from the aviation, travel and tourism industry, and media identities such as David Koch and Derryn Hinch in farewelling Godfrey. A range of speakers paid tribute to Godfrey’s drive and vision in setting up and running Virgin Blue, including old foe former Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon (who comforted Godfrey that “there is life after aviation”), former CEO and current chairman of Sydney Airport Max Moore-Wilton, and, via recorded video message, Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson.
On behalf of Virgin Blue staff, general manager public affairs Heather Jeffrey presented Godfrey with a commemorative gold Velocity frequent flyer card, while the Transport and Tourism Forum’s Chris Brown and Bruce Baird presented Godfrey with its National Leadership Award 2010. Jeffrey also announced that Virgin Blue’s next aircraft due for delivery, a Boeing 737-800 due in July, will be named Brett’s Jet and be registered VH-BZG, with BZG the initials of ‘Brett and (his wife) Zahra Godfrey’.
A Virgin Blue staff farewell for Godfrey is due to be held on Friday at the airline’s Brisbane headquarters.
Virgin Blue began operations with two leased 737-400s on August 31 2000. Today the Virgin Blue Airlines Group, including Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue and V Australia, operates a fleet of 86 Boeing 737s, Boeing 777-300ERs and Embraer E-Jets flying to 31 Australian and 16 international destinations.