Virgin Australia went through bankruptcy during Covid. Under new Bain Capital management they hired the former head of Qantas’ Jetstar, who had just accepted a senior job with Qantas Frequent Flyer, to run their Velocity Frequent Flyer program. And Qantas tried to have him jailed.
As a young BCG consultant he “won an award..for collecting the most frequent flyer points in a year” and describes himself as “a points’ nerd who gets to be in charge of points” (which is similar, in a sense, to Air Canada Aeroplan’s leadership describing themselves as “the inmates running the asylum”).
He’s been called “the man who knew too much” with Qantas arguing he’d had access to privileged information that he shouldn’t be able to bring with him to rival Virgin.
- Qantas sought a 10-month non-compete in addition to six months’ leave on his departure
- Virgin and Qantas litigated in Singapore, where his contract was signed
- Qantas won an injunction. Along the way he was “convicted of contempt of court and fined $27,000” – but Qantas sought to have him imprisoned. He’d texted about loyalty with Virgin Australia’s CEO even though he was enjoined from working for the carrier.
Virgin Australia Velocity has 11 million members and adds approximately 20,000 – 30,000 per week. Frequent flyer revenue totaled AU$411 million in 2019, and the Velocity program is on its way “to back to where we were at in 2019” and beyond. Qantas Frequent Flyer is a 10-figure business.