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Borghetti pleased veterans initiative has opened national conversation

written by WOFA | November 7, 2018

Virgin Australia is consulting further on its veterans initiative.. (Rob Finlayson)
Virgin Australia is consulting further on its veterans initiative. (Rob Finlayson)

Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti says he is pleased the airline’s announcement earlier this week to recognise veterans has opened up a national conversation about how best to support former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

On Sunday, it was reported Virgin Australia would offer ADF veterans priority boarding and acknowledge them before flights.

They would receive these benefits by showing either a card or lapel pin being rolled out to the 300,000 ADF veterans by the federal government.

While welcomed by a number of federal government ministers, it drew criticism from groups such as the Australia Defence Association (ADA). Veterans also took to social media to question the need for such measures.

On Monday, Virgin Australia said it would consult further with the community and its staff on the matter, “mindful of the response” that the announcement had received.

Borghetti told reporters after the Virgin Australia annual general meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday it was right for the airline to take a step back and “re-look at this”.

“This was a genuine initiative to recognise some people that I think should be recognised,” Borghetti said.


“Our intention was good and I think if that has opened up a conversation, great.”

Borghetti said the offer of priority boarding for veterans was intended to be optional, while reports of on-board recognition were overblown.

“There was never any intent to identify individuals and that’s I think where it got away a little,” Borghetti said.

“It even had us saluting armed forces people as they were walking on the plane, which is clearly ludicrous.

“What I am really pleased about, irrespective of all of that, is that it has actually opened up a broader conversation, not just for us as an airline but for us as a country for that matter or other businesses, in terms of what should we be doing for returned soldiers whether it is recognition or more to assist other issues.”

Virgin Australia says it is “mindful” of reactions to its veterans recognition initiative. (Defence)


  • Alex


    He really is oblivious to his downfalls isn’t he… He needs to go already.

  • Frequent Traveller


    Delusions of grandeur……..and completely out of touch.

  • Mike


    How about you recognise Veterans by offering them a minimum Silver club membership, with a minimum level of points.
    Veterans do not want to be called out in public, but to be privately recognised is respectful.
    Having a call go out before every flight calling veterans to board first may make many feel uncomfortable, we did not serve for our ego’s, we served for our country, to keep this great nation free and to help others.

  • John Jeffreys


    I congratulate Virgin for their kind offer. I am a DVA VET and received a Gold Card Pension for TPI. I think if more businesses gave discounts or upgrades would be more suitable. Regars John

  • Mark Payne


    I served the best country in the world.
    I agree with all comments and maybe we as veteran could be allowed to use the lounges as finding a seat at a airport is impossible and maybe we could get upgrade if available as nearly all of us have some form of physical disabilities and sitting in Cattle class is hard on flights.

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