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Virgin Australia And Boeing Launch Mentoring As The 737 MAX Turns Japanese


  • Virgin Australia and Boeing have launched a mentoring program as part of their sustainability partnership aimed at developing leadership skills and fostering relationships.
  • The recently acquired Boeing 737 MAX 8 has successfully operated daily flights between Australia and Japan, paving the way for more MAX jets to enter service.
  • Workplace development and inclusion is one of the five pillars of the sustainability partnership, which also includes sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsetting initiatives.

Virgin Australia and Boeing have launched a first-ever mentoring program as one of the initiatives under their sustainability partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in June this year. It comes at a time when the airline’s recently acquired Boeing 737 MAX 8 has settled into a very successful and popular daily run between Australia and Japan, paving the way for more MAX jets to enter service with Virgin Australia.

Mentoring from the highest level

Virgin Australia (VA) CEO Jayne Hrdlicka and Boeing’s President of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Maria Fernandez launched the mentoring program last week in Brisbane. It will run for twelve months and include development areas such as building leadership skills, navigating complexity and driving operational excellence.

Virgin Australia 737-8 MAX VH-8IA Preston Fiedler

Photo: Preston Fiedler | Simple Flying

Hrdlicka said the mentoring program highlights the breadth of the joint sustainability partnership and the deep technology relationship between VA and Boeing. The CEO also hopes the mentoring program is the start of more joint workforce inclusion initiatives.

“At Virgin Australia we put our people at the core of our business and we are focused on strengthening our development and inclusion efforts. Boeing has a like-minded approach in this area, so we are incredibly excited to have this program underway early in the partnership.”

Virgin Australia Boeing Mentoring L-R Jayne Hrdlicka, Jennifer Hill, Emma Craighead, Maria Fernandez

Photo: Virgin Australia

Under the initiative Hrdlicka will personally mentor Boeing Aerostructures Australia’s Finance General Manager Jennifer Hill, while Fernandez will mentor VA’s Head of Revenue Management Emma Craighead. Commenting on Boeing’s role in the program, Fernandez added that Boeing and VA share a commitment to delivering safe and sustainable flight to passengers every day.

“We also share a commitment to developing our people, including through this unique mentoring program that will provide opportunities for upcoming leaders to advance their careers and foster relationships across company boundaries.”

Workplace development and inclusion is one of the five pillars of the sustainability MoU, along with programs on developing sustainable aviation fuel, carbon offsetting, First Nations engagement and inclusion and clean energy cooperation between Australia and the US.

The MAX slots right in on the Tokyo route

Virgin Australia’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 joined the fleet in early July, and by the end of that first month the new-generation jet had settled into a comfortable routine of daily flights between Australia and Japan. For the last month, the MAX 8 has flown a continuous cycle of rotations between Far North Queensland’s Cairns Airport (CNS) and Tokyo Haneda International (HND), taking over the route from VA’s 737-700s.

Virgin Australia 737-8 ready for delivery in Seattle

Photo: Virgin Australia

Flight VA77 is scheduled to depart Cairns at 13:15 and arrive in Tokyo around 7:45 hours later at 20:00. The new 737 MAX 8, registration VH-8IA and MSN 65045, then leaves Haneda at 21:45 and arrives in Cairns at 06:15 the following day, before doing it all over again in the afternoon.

According to, the MAX has flown the route continuously since July 22, with just one rotation operated with the Boeing 737-700 that had launched the route for VA. It is configured in a two-class layout of 31 rows, with eight business class seats and 174 seats in the economy section, including the popular Economy X rows, which have an upgraded economy seat and expanded pitch, as well as other premium passenger benefits.

Virgin Australia 737 MAX 8 Economy X

Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying

VH-8IA is the first of eight 737 MAX 8 aircraft that will join VA by the first quarter of next year, followed by 25 737 MAX 10s expected to start arriving from late 2024. VA has also announced an AU$110 million ($73m) program to upgrade the cabins of its 737-800s to give its customers the same high-level experience no matter which aircraft they are traveling on.

Have you flown on the Virgin Australia MAX 8 yet? Let us know in the comments.



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