Board changes at Virgin see three new directors

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May 29, 2019
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There are three new faces on the board of Virgin Australia after a reshuffle prompted by the retirement of an independent non-executive director and a change to HNA Group representatives.

The airline announced Tuesday that Judith Swales would join the board as the new independent non-executive director replacing Sam Mostyn.

The appointment came after China’s HNA Group, which owns 19.9 percent of Virgin, appointed senior HNA executive Hou Wei as its nominated representative and Du Ming as alternate director.

This followed the resignations from the board of Zhang Khui and Lao Jiaqui effective Monday.

Hou’s resume includes stints as executive chairman of Hong Kong Airlines, president of Capital Airlines and vice marketing president of Hainan Airlines.

Swales has been chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice for Fonterra since 2018 and held other senior roles at the company.

Previous positions include managing director Heinz Australia, chief executive at Goodyear Dunlop Tyres Australia and New Zealand and managing director at Angus and Robertson/WH Smith Australia.

READ: Virgin Australia’s daylight express across the Pacific is a winner.

Her track record on boards includes Dulux Group and Fosters.

“Judith Swales is a successful executive and board director with the strong record of achievement across a number of senior roles and we are delighted she is bringing her skills and experience to Virgin Australia Group’s board of directors,’’ Virgin chairman Elizabeth Bryan said.

Bryan also acknowledged the “outstanding contribution” Mostyn had made during more than eight years on the board.

The board changes come after a management restructure under new chief executive Paul Scurrah saw the departure of group executive Rob Sharp.

Sharp, a former Qantas executive who joined Virgin seven years ago to head Tigerair Australia before becoming group executive, left the group May 10 after his position was eliminated.

It was replaced by the dual roles of chief commercial officer and chief operations officer and a global recruitment process is underway.

This is similar to the structure at the airline before 2016 when then chief executive John Borghetti restructured management and introduced John Thomas as group executive.

A global recruitment process is underway to fill the new roles which are being filled in the meantime by insiders Merren McArthur and Stuart Aggs.