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Rob Sharp to leave Virgin Australia following management restructure

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 7, 2019
A file image of Virgin Australia aircraft at Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
A file image of Virgin Australia aircraft at Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

New Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah has unveiled a new management structure that has led to the departure of Rob Sharp from the airline group.

Under the new structure announced internally to staff on Tuesday, Virgin Australia will have a chief commercial officer and chief operations officer. The two positions have replaced the group executive for airlines role currently held by Sharp.

Virgin Australia confirmed to Australian Aviation on Tuesday Sharp, who has held the position of Virgin Australia group executive for airlines since June 2017, would leave the company on Friday.

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While Virgin Australia conducts a global search to fill the two positions, the company has appointed Merren McArthur as acting chief commercial officer. McArthur will continue to the chief executive of Virgin Australia’s low-cost carrier (LCC) Tigerair Australia, having been appointed to that position in March 2018.

A file image of Tigerair Australia chief executive Merren McArthur. (Tigerair Australia)
A file image of Tigerair Australia chief executive Merren McArthur. (Tigerair Australia)

Meanwhile, director of group flight operations Stuart Aggs will be acting chief operations officer during the recruitment process.

It is something of a case of what is old is new again at Virgin Australia, given the airline did previously have a chief commercial officer and chief operations officer as recently as 2016, when then chief executive John Borghetti rejigged his executive team and removed the two positions, resulting in Judith Crompton and Gary Hammes leaving the company.

Crompton was responsible for alliances, network, revenue management and sales for Virgin Australia’s domestic and international network, while Hammes looked after the day to day running of the airline, covering areas such as engineering, ground, flight and network operations, among other tasks.

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Friday will mark the end of seven years at the Virgin Australia group for Sharp, who was Tigerair Australia chief executive from May 2013 until being tapped to run the Virgin Australia airline business following the sudden departure of John Thomas.

Previously, Sharp worked for more than a decade at Qantas where he held a number of roles in commercial and strategy, as well as head of Global Airport Infrastructure and Services.

Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp at the 2018 Australian Airports Association annual conference.
Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp at the 2018 Australian Airports Association annual conference.

The new management structure is the second major move Scurrah has announced since taking the chief executive chair in late March.

On April 30, the airline said it was pushing back deliveries of the Boeing 737 MAX to July 2021, a deferral of some 20 months, from the previously scheduled first delivery of November 2019.

Under the restructured order book of 48 aircraft, up from the previous total of 40 aircraft, Virgin Australia’s first 737 MAX will be the 737 MAX 10, with 25 of the type to start entering the fleet from July 2021.

While deliveries of the 737 MAX 10 has been moved forward by about six months, Virgin Australia has pushed back the introduction of 23 737 MAX 8s to February 2025.

Previously, the first of 38 737 MAX 8s were due to enter the fleet in November 2019, while 10 of the larger 737 MAX 10s were due from January 2022 onwards.

Incoming Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah addresses the media. (Virgin Australia)
Incoming Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah addresses the media. (Virgin Australia)

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