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Virgin CEO in tears after being ‘dumped’, alleges report

written by Adam Thorn | February 26, 2024

Jayne Hrdlicka commenced as Virgin Australia CEO in 2020. (Image: Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka was forced out of the top job by owners Bain Capital, a new report has alleged.

The Australian cites a “high-level source” that states the former Jetstar boss cried when she heard the news and “did not see it coming”.

It comes after the airline announced Hrdlicka’s departure on Tuesday, but strongly suggested the decision was hers.

“I have decided the time is right for me to signal CEO transition for this great airline and ultimately to pass the baton on,” Hrdlicka said last week.

“This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but the last four years have been heavy lifting across the organisation during the toughest of times.”


She continued that because the business was preparing to list on the ASX, it presented the “perfect juncture to begin the process of leadership transition”.

However, a new report instead alleges that Hrdlicka was “given no warning” that she was going to be “dumped” and was deeply upset by her treatment.

It added Bain Capital was “unhappy with her performance for as long as a year”.

Hrdlicka, previously CEO of Qantas Loyalty, left the Qantas Group in 2017 to head up The a2 Milk Company before resigning in 2019 due to what she would later reveal was her husband’s cancer diagnosis. She was selected to replace Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah in 2020.

Under Hrdlicka’s leadership, the airline struck a deal with unions for a pay freeze to help the airline recover from COVID-19 and increased its order of 737 MAX aircraft to help ramp up its short-haul international services.

Despite Virgin’s impressive turnaround, its performance was still dwarfed by rival Qantas, which announced a monster $2.465 billion profit for the last full financial year compared to Virgin’s $129 million. It still amounted to the best financial results for the carrier in over a decade.

Her tenure was not without controversy, though, including “hurtful” comments around the reopening of borders in 2020.

Virgin Australia chairman Ryan Cotton praised Hrdlicka last week for leading the airline through “the most turbulent times of its 20+ year history”.

“Her leadership was fundamental to repositioning the airline back to its roots as a value carrier, returning Virgin Australia to profitability for the first time in 11 years,” he said.

“It has laid a strong foundation for continued growth and margin expansion that will underpin Virgin Australia’s competitive position in the Australian market.

“To do this required a lot of heavy lifting and the rebuild of many parts of our organisation. A big part of this was resetting our talent pipeline for the long-term, which serves us very well now. These are significant achievements, and we will soon commence looking for a new CEO to continue our transformation journey.”

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Comments (2)

  • peter harbison


    Jayne was also CEO of the Jetstar group for over five years, so she was eminently well qualified. Private equity takes no prisoners…

  • Stewart Smith


    I would like to see another article with information from Virgin insiders and industry experts to help us understand whether or not her performance was good or not.

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