Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : January February 2010 Contents 27
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
and I will stay on for probably at least a
year in some way, shape or form. Not as the
'Ghost of Christmas Past', but as some-
one who is there and if the phone call is
required to say 'What do you think about
this?' then I'd be glad to give my time."
He'll certainly leave an enormous legacy,
and some big shoes to fill.
"BG conceived the airline, implemented
the LCC plan and then adapted it to
become a New World Carrier. He is one
of the few airline executives in the world,
if not the only one, to enjoy that status,"
noted Derek Sadubin, chief operating
officer of consultancy the Centre for Asia
" e airline is a vastly different animal
from the one conceived in 2000, a dec-
ade ago," Sadubin told AA. "It arguably
therefore needs a different sort of leader,
one who has experience in international
markets, and can manage the complexity of
what is now a very large company."
Certainly Godfrey himself sees his
departure as providing an opportunity for a
new style of leader at Virgin Blue.
"Now what I think it probably needs is a
leader who can at least step into and really
understand the culture -- that's first and
foremost -- but someone who perhaps is not
as (much) a risk-taker as I am, I'm probably
not good for the business," Godfrey said in
a moment of reflection. "I don't know, going
forward, that might be a bit harsh, but I
don't think I get excited by business as usual.
So that's probably why it's a good opportu-
nity now to find someone else to have a go."
It's hard to imagine a more corporate
styled, managerial CEO at the helm of
Virgin Blue, a company known from its in-
ception for its cheeky attitude, media stunts
and celebrity studded product launches
invariably involving Virgin Group founder
and Virgin Blue financial backer Sir Ri-
chard Branson, and its casual, no-worries
demeanour. But Godfrey's comments sug-
gest he sees for Virgin Blue a time for con-
solidation and a more measured approach,
now that the future major corporate plan
elements are in place.
"I see the business ... (as having) gone on
this tremendous growth profile and, to be
honest, I'm probably too entrepreneurial
for this business now. By that I mean my
greatest motivation in life is beating the
shit out of a competitor. It's not about
beating KPIs (key performance indica-
tors) or long term growth plans, it's about...
seriously, it's a competition and I like to do
better. I think the only way to judge a vic-
tory is by the competency of a competitor.
So I'm not one of these blokes who focuses
on absolute improvement, it's about doing
better than the other guys and that's being
entrepreneurial, I guess, and it's worked."
Whoever the Virgin Blue board appoints
as Godfrey's successor should give a strong
indication of the company's direction post
BG. An executive recruitment company has
been engaged to search for Godfrey's suc-
cessor, but the VB boss has committed to
stay on until the end of 2010 if necessary,
until "we find the right person".
Explained Godfrey, " e focus is finding
the best person, quite frankly, so that's
where we're at. We had a few changes at
senior management level here over the last
little while (including the imminent ap-
pointment of a new CCO/chief commer-
cial officer), we've got some good people
and there's no doubt that people inside
the company are going to be considered.
It's not my call, to be quite frank, it's the
board's decision, but I certainly know that
they're considering internal candidates."
In the meantime there's still much
remaining on Godfrey's 'to-do' list, from
guiding the airline out of the 2009 eco-
nomic downturn, defining it's 'Airline of
the Future' business plans, consolidating
the position of V Australia, introducing an
alliance with Delta Air Lines, buying 30-50
new 737s, and laying the foundations for a
renewed regional airline push.
" ere's the Delta deal that's got to get
done, there's a significant order to be done,
there's a CCO to replace and there's a res-
er vation system that needs to be installed,"
said Godfrey of his major goals. " ere's
two other key deals which I won't elaborate
on but there's two other things that are on
that list that I'd like to achieve."
e "two other things" may well be a
renewed assault on regional Australian
markets, which Virgin Blue currently only
ser ves in a limited way with its Em-
braer E-Jets, and new opportunities for
V Australia, which may or may not include
acquiring Boeing 777-200LRs to operate
ultra long range nonstop services such as
Perth-London and Sydney-New York.
"Sure it is!" Godfrey answered when asked
if reports of buying 777-200LRs were ac-
curate. But, "So (are reports) of us looking at
ATRs and Q400s and Saab 340s."
Godfrey said the airline's development
team's task is to continually evaluate oppor-
tunities, including new aircraft types, "and
if they don't, they get a stick from me!
"Have we looked at 200LRs? Shit, yeah!
And if I hadn't then they should fire me
RAPID EXPANSION From one route, two aircraft and 200 staff when it launched flights on August 31 2000, in the nearly 10 years since the Virgin Blue group has
grown to encompass four airline brands -- Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue, V Australia (all pictured above) and Polynesian Blue -- employing around 6000 staff and serving
over 30 destinations.
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