10 Dec 2021

Heathrow secures GC from Virgin Media to help steer it through sustained Covid-19 turbulence

Mine Hifzi to take over in July replacing longstanding GC Carol Hui who left in August

Mine Hifzi Image courtesy of Heathrow Airport Holdings

Virgin Media’s general counsel for the UK and Ireland has landed the top legal job at Heathrow Airport. 

Mine Hifzi is set to take over next July from longstanding GC Carol Hui, who stepped down as GC in August.

She joins at a challenging time for Heathrow, which earlier this year reported a £2bn annual loss after passenger numbers plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic to levels not seen since the 1970s. A spokesperson at the time said the loss "underlines the devastating impact of Covid-19 on aviation".

The airport, which lost its status as Europe's busiest airport last year, was also hit by the departure of three of its eight senior executives in the summer when Andrew Macmillan and Chris Garton, chief strategy officer and chief solutions officer respectively, departed alongside Hui. 

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye told the Telegraph at the time that Hui had been “instrumental” in leading the airport to success with the Airports Commission recommendation for expansion and subsequent legal appeals, which ended with a ruling in the Supreme Court last December that enabled it to seek planning permission to build a third runway. The scheme has been controversial with environmental campaigners, who argue it goes against the government’s policy of removing almost all carbon emissions from the economy by 2050. 

“Carol is probably the best in-house lawyer in the UK and has been a trusted advisor to me and the board,” Holand-Kaye told the Telegraph in August, adding that, “We will take a little time to choose the right person to succeed her as general counsel.”

Hifzi has spent almost eight years at Virgin Media in London, where according to her LinkedIn profile she is responsible for legal, regulatory, company secretarial, public affairs, sustainability and privacy matters as a member of its executive committee and is also a co-sponsor of its Empower Network with a focus on under-represented ethnic groups.

Earlier she had a stint at broadcast media company Scripps Networks Interactive as SVP for international commercial and legal affairs and also spent 13 years as SVP and GC for US mass media company Discovery.

A Heathrow spokesperson said Hifzi brings “considerable legal and commercial expertise,” adding that “her most recent experience with regulatory, political and consumer issues at Virgin Media will be highly relevant in her new role at Britain’s hub airport".

Heathrow did not respond to a request for comment as to who has taken on the responsibilities of the GC role since Hui’s retirement and its website does not list an interim general counsel. Nigel Milton is listed as the airport’s chief of staff, Chris Annetts as chief strategy officer and Helen Elsby as chief solutions officer.

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