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Ex-Virgin exec jumps ship from Optus to Qantas

written by Jake Nelson | January 30, 2024

Danielle Keighery in 2020. (Image: Virgin Australia)

A former Virgin Australia executive has been headhunted by Qantas just weeks before she was to start at Optus.

Danielle Keighery, who was Virgin’s chief experience officer before the airline went into administration during the pandemic, will take over from Andrew McGinnes as Qantas’ chief corporate affairs and communications officer on 1 March.

Keighery has worked at Bank of Queensland and Crown Resorts since leaving Virgin in 2021 after 17 years at the carrier. She was due to start as Optus’ chief corporate affairs officer in two weeks, but has instead accepted the position at the Flying Kangaroo over the embattled telco.

“Danielle has a wealth of experience leading corporate affairs functions for major organisations in both Australia and overseas, with broader expertise in building corporate reputation, enhancing brands and customer experience, and driving cultural change through strong communications and stakeholder engagement,” said Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson.

“Danielle also has a deep understanding of aviation, having held a number of senior executive roles at Virgin Australia during more than a decade with the airline. I know she’ll make a valuable contribution to the Qantas Group as part of our leadership team.”


The appointment comes less than a week after Qantas Group’s current corporate affairs chief, Andrew McGinnes, announced his resignation as of June to “pursue other opportunities” after 13 years working across Qantas and Jetstar.

“I’d like to sincerely thank Andrew for all his work over a long and successful career at Qantas,” said Hudson.

McGinnes, alongside then-Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and Jetstar CEO Stephanie Tully, fronted the Senate Select Committee on the Cost of Living in August last year, where it was revealed that Jetstar was holding around $100 million in unused COVID-19 flight credits over and above the approximately $370 million in credit Qantas held for its flights.

Qantas later ditched the deadline on redemptions for its flight credits, allowing Qantas customers to obtain cash refunds with no time limit and Jetstar customers to redeem credits for flights indefinitely.

Along with Alan Joyce, who moved up his retirement by two months in September, other senior Qantas figures including Loyalty division CEO Olivia Wirth and chairman Richard Goyder have headed for the exits in the past few months.

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