Virgin Australia has announced its new chief commercial officer is a 21-year veteran of new owner Bain Capital’s ‘sister’ consultancy firm, Bain & Company.
Dave Emerson has jetted in from Texas to take up the opportunity in Brisbane, and had previously been advising the airline “since last year” in his last role.
The move will likely increase speculation owners Bain Capital want to keep a more watchful eye on their Australian assets by dropping in a trusted lieutenant.
It comes weeks after Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka sparked a national debate when she suggested a vaccinated Australia should open its borders, even if it could potentially lead to some people dying.
However, Hrdlicka said Emerson had earned an “international reputation for excellence” while advising dozens of major global airlines.
In the new role, he will set and oversee Virgin Australia’s commercial strategy, including revenue management, sales, distribution and marketing, effective immediately.
Emerson will replace Virgin Australia’s current chief commercial officer John MacLeod, who announced his retirement at the start of the year.
“On behalf of the entire Virgin Australia team, I want to sincerely thank John for the important role he has played and all that he has achieved, and wish him all the best in his retirement,” Hrdlicka said.
Bain Capital and Bain & Company are separate businesses but ‘globally affiliated’. Bain & Company is the original consultancy founded in 1973 that later launched separate private equity firm Bain Capital in 1984.
“In 1984, Bill Bain and his partners set out to apply the same results-oriented approach to the private equity market,” reads a statement on Bain & Company’s website.
“As a separate company, Bain Capital shares no management or information with Bain & Company. What we do share, however, is our approach to taking on tough business challenges and our commitment to delivering extraordinary results.”
The news of a high-profile appointment also comes a month after Qantas won a last-minute injunction to stop Virgin Velocity’s ‘defecting’ new CEO from starting his job.
It marked the latest twist in the row between the two airlines, which started after it emerged Rohrlach accepted a job working for Qantas’ loyalty scheme before switching to the Virgin rival shortly afterwards.
Virgin reacted by issuing a statement saying it “categorically denies allegations that it has been anything but proper and appropriate” and is confident it will be “vindicated” in court.
“We look forward to welcoming Mr Rohrlach to the Virgin Australia family with open arms and showing him why we are Australia’s most loved airline with a winning team that attracts the very best,” the business said.
The flag carrier is taking the action because it says it had already shared highly sensitive information while onboarding Rohrlach, who was also the ex co-CEO of Jetsar Japan.
In January, Australian Aviation reported how new Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka’s refreshed senior team included just one executive remaining from predecessor Paul Scurrah’s era.
The new Virgin Australia Group leadership team:
- Jayne Hrdlicka, chief executive officer and managing director
- Stuart Aggs, chief operations officer
- Lisa Burquest, chief people officer
- Alistair Hartley, chief transformation officer
- Paul Jones, chief customer and digital officer
- David Marr, chief financial officer
- Nick Rohrlach, CEO Velocity
- Susan Schneider, chief legal and risk officer
- Moksha Watts, chief corporate affairs officer
- Dave Emerson, chief commercial officer