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Virgin chairman to stand down

After seven years helming the board, Neil Chatfield is calling it quits, stating that he will stay on until the airline finds a suitable replacement.

After seven years helming the board, Neil Chatfield is calling it quits, stating that he will stay on until the airline finds a suitable replacement.

After seven years as Virgin Australia’s chairman, Neil Chatfield will step down. He will stand for re-election at Virgin’s annual general meeting in November, to “ensure the stability of the board”, and remain until a suitable replacement is found.

“After seven years as chairman, having seen through the company’s transformation to a diversified airline group under the leadership of chief executive John Borghetti and the successful completion of the game change program strategy, I believe that now is a good time to transition to a new chairman,” Chatfield said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I will remain chairman for as long as it takes to find a suitable replacement for the role and am committed to supporting the recruitment process.”

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Pictured: Neil Chatfield. Image Source: Courier Mail.

Chatfield was appointed a Virgin Australia director in May 2006. He was named chairman in June the following year.

One of his most significant decisions at Virgin was to appoint John Borghetti, a former Qantas executive, as the airline’s chief executive in 2010.

While Virgin, as stated by Chatfield, has diversified over the years, the airline has also experienced a major share price drop under his chairmanship. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin’s share price fell from $2.04 when Chatfield became chairman, to 38.5 cents today.

Replacing Chatfield, however, will be a challenging feat.

Chief executives of Virgin’s three major airline shareholders Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Etihad have recently joined the board. This would mean that Virgin will have to walk a variable gauntlet during the selection process to assure they find a candidate that is able to manage potential conflicts of interest.

Virgin has a strong line up of potential internal candidates. Though, if Chatfield’s appointment in 2006 is anything to by, Virgin will be looking far and wide for a replacement.

What will you remember most from Neil Chatfield’s chairmanship?