If You Could Say One Thing to Virgin Australia's CEO…
John Borghetti handed over the reins to current Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah in 2019

As we covered yesterday, there are a wide range of topics that Australian frequent flyers would like to bring up with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Australian Frequent Flyer members were also asked recently what they would say if they got an opportunity to meet Virgin Australia’s new CEO, Paul Scurrah. Interestingly, the range of issues brought up are totally different to those that would be addressed to Alan Joyce.

First and foremost, many frequent flyers would tell Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah that they want the airline to join one of the global alliances. With Qantas already in the Oneworld alliance, that leaves Star Alliance or SkyTeam. Here are some of the comments on this issue…

I think, for serious flyers, joining a global alliance is very important. The patchwork of inter-airline alliances is just that – patchy and inconsistent, with different experiences depending on which partner you’re flying with. A true frequent flyer (and this is the kind of passenger you want to foster a healthy sense of loyalty with) wants consistency when it comes to the whole travel experience. I understand that most people here want Star Alliance but that is going to be extremely difficult given recent history, so SkyTeam would be a more likely choice. Hey, if people want VA to join a global alliance, they can’t complain about which one you join as long as you join one!

I would also raise the issue of an alliance. I know Virgin claim that their “bilateral agreements” suit them better, but they need to get real and realise it doesn’t suit serious customers and potential serious customers.

However, not everyone agrees that joining an alliance is in the airline’s best interests…

The whole need for an alliance is backwards thinking. In a 21st century economy which is time poor, demands flexibility all while maintaining constant (high) levels of service, obtaining a multitude of bi-lateral partnerships would be better than the traditional alliances which locks you into a group with some sub standard airlines.

Several people have commented that the airline seems to have an identity crisis. They’re confused as to whether Virgin’s trying to offer the same full-service experience as Qantas does, or whether it wants to go back to the days of Virgin Blue.

Would the company please make up it’s mind and follow through. Are you still just Virgin Blue with merely a coat of paint so you don’t look like Tiger or Virgin Australia the company that was supposed to be a full service airline (but isn’t).

If I am travelling at a meal time then I need a meal, not a snack.

From my layman’s perspective – the most successful entities in the corporate world are the ones who decided early on what they are and who they serve. Then they corner that market.

So I guess I’d say “Paul, choose the type of airline you want VA to be, mate. And be it. Better than anyone else.”

There are also several comments about the need to improve the Virgin Australia and Velocity websites. And some frequent Business class flyers believe the cost-cutting in the pointy end of the plane has gone too far.

Understand that you need to cut costs, but please stop attacking J class benefits and catering we will be left stale pretzels for a hot dinner soon.

In contrast, the main source of frustration among Qantas customers in recent years has been unacceptable levels of service from the Qantas call centre. Qantas’ problems started when it closed most of its Australian call centres in favour of overseas call centres in New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa. Yet, Virgin Australia’s call centre has been in the Philippines for years and there are barely ever any complaints about it.

Numerous people say they would bring up the issue of Tigerair with Paul Scurrah. They feel that Tigerair should be closed down as it has a poor reputation, is not profitable and is too similar to Virgin Australia. This is interesting because most AFF members in the equivalent Qantas thread said that Qantas should not give up Jetstar, which they see as having an important role in the Australian market.

So, what would YOU say to Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah? Let us know by joining the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: If you met Paul Scurrah (Virgin Australia CEO), what would you say?


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]