The Business Year

John Borghetti

UAE, ABU DHABI - Transport

Flight Time

CEO & Managing Director, Virgin Australia Group of Airlines

Bio

John Borghetti commenced as CEO & Managing Director of the Virgin Australia Group of Airlines in May 2010. Under his leadership, the Group has undergone a strategic repositioning. He has had 40 years’ experience in aviation, including a long career at Qantas where he was appointed Executive General Manager Qantas in November 2003, responsible for Qantas Domestic, International and QantasLink. He is a Director of Energy Australia and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He has previously served as a Director of Jetset Travelworld, Sydney FC, Piper Aircraft (USA), The Australian Ballet, and CARE Australia.

What lies at the core of the Etihad Airways-Virgin Australia partnership and how do the business operations of the two complement one another? Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways formed a […]

What lies at the core of the Etihad Airways-Virgin Australia partnership and how do the business operations of the two complement one another?

Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways formed a strategic alliance in August 2010, with the aim of providing seamless connections, reciprocal frequent flyer programs, and an optimized network, offering choice and value to travellers. We both have a strong focus on delivering the best possible travel experience, with personalized customer service as a clear differentiator. We were the first Australian airline to recognise the benefits of having a hub in the Middle East. As part of the partnership with Etihad Airways, we launched flights from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in 2011, becoming the first Australian airline to fly to the Middle East in over 20 years. While Asia remains very significant for Australia, the Middle East is growing as an important trade partner and provides a convenient gateway to key markets in Europe and beyond—our partnership with Etihad Airways provides our customers seamless access to over 50 destinations across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Importantly, it also enables us to support visitation to the Middle East as our customers can connect seamlessly from our 48 Australian and New Zealand destinations through to Abu Dhabi.

What has the increased Etihad Airways’ stake in Virgin Australia brought to your company?

We believe it demonstrates the confidence of Etihad Airways in our strategy and the future of Virgin Australia. Etihad Airways is key important alliance partner of ours ,and we are focused on enhancing this alliance for the benefit of travellers.

Both UAE nationals and Australians are known for being avid travelers. Have you noticed a rise in passenger numbers with improved connectivity between the two countries during recent years?

Under the leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, we have seen Abu Dhabi and the UAE grow rapidly as a hub for business and tourism. At the same time, airline connectivity into and out of Abu Dhabi has improved significantly. This has been reflected in passenger numbers as we see more and more travellers opting to stopover in Abu Dhabi on their way to or from Europe.

Incidentally, the CEO of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, is also an Australian. What feedback have you received from him and other Australian expatriates about working, living, and doing business in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi?

We work closely with James Hogan and his team to ensure we offer a seamless travel experience, a convenient schedule, and the best choice of destinations. Both airlines are committed to providing a great customer service matched with a young and efficient fleet. Both have grown strongly over the past couple of years and supported competition in their regions. As Australians, we admire the pioneering spirit of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is investing in the future through building innovative hotels, cultural attractions and important infrastructure. We are proud to be partnered with Etihad Airways at such an exciting time.

What is your opinion of the expansion of the Abu Dhabi International Airport, and do you see the city emerging as an increasingly important aviation hub?

We are very pleased with the plans to deliver a world-class international airport to Abu Dhabi. As passenger numbers rise, infrastructure must be able to support this growth, to ensure Abu Dhabi continues to grow as an important strategic hub. The new terminals will increase capacity to 27 million by 2017, ensuring that passengers have a seamless experience be they connecting onto a Virgin Australia flight to Sydney, or exiting the airport to explore the UAE. The new airport will also bring efficiencies for us as airlines.

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