Skift Live

John Thomas


Waltzing Matilda Aviation/Connect Airlines

John Thomas is a highly respected, value-creating and innovation-oriented global aviation leader with over four decades of hands-on experience. He launched his first regional airline in the late 1970s in Australia. In 2008, he launched WMA as a business jet operator. As the CEO of Virgin Australia Airlines, he initiated successful turnaround reducing costs by more than $350 million per year while increasing premium market share and overall revenues through the introduction of new products, such as first domestic premium economy, WiFi etc.

John is a trusted partner and senior advisor to many of the world’s leading airlines, including advising United Airlines through Chapter 11 (and subsequent United/Continental Airlines merger); the merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines; the merger between Alaska and Virgin America; the successful turnarounds of Thai Airways and Philippine Airlines; and the sales force restructuring of British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific that became industry standard.

He is credited for created the “airline ancillary revenue” cash stream that now earns more than 20 billion dollars annually for US airlines and was associated with “saving” the US airline industry. John also established highly lucrative JVs between major airlines such as Delta with Virgin Atlantic and Delta with AeroMexico. He enhanced the profitability of Delta and United Frequent Flyer programs with basis change from miles to revenue accrual.
John serves on Boards of Icelandair and SkyService, a corporate aviation provider in Canada, and is Chair of both companies’ Health & Safety Committees.

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