Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti has been recognised in the 2017 Australia Day Honours list for his contribution to the aviation industry over the past four decades.
The veteran airline boss has been honoured with admission as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
The official citation said Borghetti was recognised “For distinguished service to the Australian aviation industry, to the development of national and international tourism opportunities, and as a supporter of the arts and sport.”
Borghetti has been chief executive of Virgin Australia, the nation’s second largest airline group, since 2010.
During his time at the helm, Borghetti has taken the budget airline formerly known as Virgin Blue to a full-service carrier that was rebranded to Virgin Australia in 2011.
Further, Borghetti expanded Virgin’s footprint in the Australian regional market through the acquisition of Skywest in 2013 and forged alliances with strategic foreign carriers such as Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines to grow its international network without spending billions of dollars on new aircraft.
And at the low-cost end of the market Virgin took full ownership of Tigerair Australia in 2014. Meanwhile, Virgin has also commenced a dedicated cargo business and significantly grown its Velocity frequent flyer program.
The changes to Virgin have brought competition to many sectors of the Australian aviation industry that had been dominated by Qantas.
“Over the past six years, we have been working tirelessly to transform the company and frankly the Australian aviation industry,” Borghetti told shareholders at the Virgin annual general meeting in Brisbane on November 16 2016.
“In doing so we have delivered an innovative customer experience to Australian travellers and ensured there is strong competition in every past of the Australian aviation industry, including corporate travel, leisure, low cost, regional, charter, cargo and loyalty programs.”
Prior to joining Virgin, Borghetti was at Qantas for 36 years. Starting in the mail room in 1973, Borghetti rose to executive general manager of Qantas airlines in 2003, a position he held until his departure from the Flying Kangaroo in 2009.
In addition to his aviation roles, Borghetti is currently a non-executive director on Australian Securities Exchange listed Coca-Cola Amatil. He has also been a director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra since 2012.