Resignation sees Virgin hunting for new Velocity boss

January 20, 2020
Virgins and Velocity

Virgin Australia is on the hunt for a new chief for its Velocity frequently flyer program after incumbent Karl Schuster resigned after heading the loyalty unit for almost five years.

It is understood Schuster took the decision during the Christmas break and will leave the company on January 31.

Under his leadership, Velocity’s membership almost doubled from 5.3 million to more than 10 million and annual revenue rose to top $A411m.

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He also introduced partnerships with brands such as flybuys, Optus, Ola, freedom and Westpac.

Former Velocity chief executive Neil Thompson will retake the helm on an interim basis while a global search is finalized.

Schuster said in a statement announcing his departure that it had been an honor to lead the Velocity team from 2015 and he was proud of its achievements.

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make however the business is now in a place where I feel the time is right for me to step down as CEO,’’ he said.

“With Velocity once again back in the Virgin Australia Group this will only continue to help deliver results for the Group.

Virgin Australian Group chief executive Paul Scurrah paid homage in the announcement to Schuster’s “dedication and unwavering commitment” as well as his role in the loyalty scheme’s growth.

“Velocity plays a very important role in the Group’s future and Karl has helped set up the program for success in its next phase,’’ Scurrah said.

“I would like to thank Karl for his contribution to Velocity and the Group during his time here and would like to wish him all the very best for his future.”

Schuster took over Velocity with a remit of expanding the loyalty program in the wake of a 2014 decision by private equity group Affinity to take a 35 percent stake for $A335m.

Virgin last year agreed to pay $A700 million to buy back the stake and again take total control of the program.