John Borghetti is leaving Virgin Australia

Sir Richard Branson poses with John Borghetti, Virgin Australia Group CEO and John Borghetti. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti has announced his departure after a decade with Australia’s second domestic airline.

But he’s not going right away. He’s told the board of directors that he will not renew his contract post January 2020, giving plenty of time to find a replacement

Borghetti said: “It is a privilege to serve as CEO of the Virgin Australia Group and to lead a wonderful team of 10 000 people. By notifying the board of my intentions now, it provides them with appropriate time to conduct a thorough recruitment process and for me to support the transition.”

Elizabeth Bryan, Chairman of Virgin Australia, said: ‘The Board and I are grateful to John for providing a generous period of time for the search for the CEO and an appropriate transition of leadership. I would like to acknowledge John’s enormous contribution to the Virgin Australia Group to date and thank him for his continued dedication.”

The board will conduct a global search for a successor.

Borghetti started as CEO in May 2010 and has more than 40 years in aviation including at rival Qantas. He was paid $5,567,821 last year, according to the annual report, his base pay of $1.95 million boosted by short and long term bonuses.

He is listed as holding 9.9 million shares in Virgin. They last traded $0.215 each.

In the latest half year results, Virgin Australia posted a $4.4 million profit.

Underlying profit before tax of was up 142% to $102.5 million, the airline’s highest in ten years, on a 6% lift in revenue to $2.8 billion.

Borghetti then said: “This demonstrates the success of our long-term strategy to reposition the business and strengthen its financial foundation; however there is more work ahead to ensure we continue to deliver.”

And he was upbeat about the full year: “Based on the Group’s recent positive performance trajectory, current market conditions and fuel headwinds net of foreign exchange for the second half, we expect the Group’s underlying performance for the second half of the 2018 financial year to improve compared to the Group’s underlying performance for the second half of the 2017 financial year.”

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