Former defence and MH370 search chief joins Virgin board

December 12, 2018

The former Australian defence chief who led early efforts to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has joined the Virgin Australia board.

Sir Angus Houston replaces former Australian Transport Minister Mark Vaile as a non-executive director on the airline.

The change comes as Virgin Australia has yet to announce a new chief executive to replace incumbent John Borghetti when he leaves next year.

The former Air Chief Marshal headed the Australian Defence Force from 2005 to 2011 and the Royal Australian Air Force from 2001 to 2005. When he retired from the military in 2011, he had more than four decades of service under his belt.

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He went on the chair air traffic control provider Airservices Australia from 2011 and was awarded the Knight of Order of Australia in 2015 for his service to the country. He stepped down from Airservices in 2018.

In July 2014, Sir Angus was appointed the Prime Minister’s special envoy to lead Australia’s efforts in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster and for three months headed the Joint Agency Coordination Centre leading the Australian co-ordinated search for MH370.

“Sir Angus’ experience as one Australia’s most senior aviation and military leaders will further strengthen and diversify the board of the Virgin Australia Group,’’ Virgin Group chairman Elizabeth Bryan said in a statement to the ASX.

“Sir Angus has a distinguished history of leadership and service to our country as chief of the Australian Defence Force and air force, chairman of Airservices Australia and in many other advisory, business and community roles.

“In addition to his extensive leadership experience, Sir Angus’s unique insights into aviation and ability to address complex issues in an independent capacity will be a great asset to the Virgin Australia Group.’’

Bryan also thanked outgoing director Vaile for his work and “significant, positive impact’ as an independent director.