Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti has announced he will leave the carrier in 2020, which sharpens the focus on who will succeed him.

The carrier released a stock market announcement saying Borghetti has advised the board he will not seek to renew his contract beyond January 2020. Borghetti “has signaled his desire to depart by this date to enable the group ample time to recruit an incoming CEO and allow for an appropriate transition,” Virgin Australia said.

The board will now start “a global search for a successor while John will remain focused on leading the group.”

Borghetti has led Virgin Australia since 2010, and has overseen the carrier’s transition from a low-cost carrier to a larger full-service airline.

There has already been significant interest in recent years regarding Borghetti’s presumptive successor. John Thomas was thought to be the favorite when he was hired to head airline operations in 2016, although he left the carrier a year later.

Rob Sharp was named to replace Thomas as group executive for the mainline carrier in November, after serving as CEO of Virgin subsidiary Tigerair. Sharp will likely be a leading candidate for the group CEO role.

Adrian Schofield, avweekscho@gmail.com