Sean Donohue, CCO, Virgin AustraliaThe heavy cost Virgin Australia is paying for change was notably absent from a presentation Chief Operating Officer, Sean Donohue, gave at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Sydney yesterday.

Titled “Virgin Australia’s Remarkable Transformation”, it followed two nightmare days for the carrier. On Monday, Virgin announced losses could reach $110 million. On Tuesday, its new Sabre reservation system crashed causing chaos.

On Wednesday, it was as if nothing had happened.

Mr Donohue painted a lovely picture of an airline on the rise.

Corporate business has doubled in two years, it’s opened 11 new airport lounges, the carrier has a growing, youthful fleet of predominantly Boeing 737-800s, it has invested in two new carriers, Skywest Airlines and Tiger Airways Australia, it has re-branded from Virgin Blue and staff are 100% behind the new strategy.

He did not address any of the tech integration issues encountered in the switch from the Navitaire and Amadeus systems to Sabre since January.

Virgin Australia has twice nominated the new res system as a factor in official Australian Stock Exchange profit downgrades, most recently on Monday.

“We are delighted to be on the Sabre network,” he said

“You only want to go through a reservation migration once in your career and this will be the last time we do it at Virgin”.

Mr Donohue said higher-yield GDS bookings have tripled since January.

When pressed on the cost of change, Mr Donohue fudged a little and stressed that the costs hitting Virgin’s bottom line were one-off and would not be repeated.

After his speech, Mr Donohue left via a back door and did not speak with media.

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