Captain Georgina Sutton will become the first female chief pilot for a major Australian airline when she takes up the post with Jetstar Australia and New Zealand in February.
Sutton is leaving Qantas, where she is currently the Boeing 767 fleet captain, and moving to Melbourne for the chief pilot role at the Qantas-owned low-cost carrier.
“Dear B767 flightcrew, I want you to be the first to know that I have accepted the position of Chief Pilot Jetstar Australia and New Zealand,” Sutton told colleagues on Facebook.
“I will take up the position early next year and I will finish up in the office on the 12th of December.”
Sutton will replace current Jetstar chief pilot Captain Mark Rindfleish, who announced his intention to resume full-time flying with the airline earlier this year. Rindfleish has spent the past six years as Jetstar’s head of flight operations and chief pilot.
Jetstar conducted both an internal and external search for Rindfleish’s successor.
“We are delighted that Captain Georgina Sutton will join us early next year as chief pilot after being successful against a number of high calibre internal and external candidates,” Jetstar Australia and New Zealand chief executive David Hall said in a statement.
“Georgina has demonstrated strengths in leadership, technical expertise, operations and shares our strong focus on safety.”
Sutton’s move to Jetstar comes as Qantas is set to to retire its entire passenger 767 fleet by the end of 2014.
The final Qantas 767 passenger flight was scheduled for December 27 – QF452 from Melbourne to Sydney.
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Sutton said the accelerated retirement of the 767s at Qantas had been a tough period for everyone.
She expressed “great respect and admiration for how you have conducted yourselves during this period”.
“Faced with difficult circumstances you have maintained professionalism and grace,” Sutton said.
“Many of you have had to move to interstate bases and others to lower ranks to remain in Sydney. I am confident that this will be a transitory situation and I know you have a great desire to contribute to the future of Qantas.”
Sutton, who featured in the recent 60 Minutes report on the 767’s retirement, flew her last flights on the type over the weekend. She said she shared her colleagues’ passion for the 767, which she described as a great aircraft.
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