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Virgin makes all Tigerair pilots redundant, and 1,000 staff

written by Adam Thorn | March 26, 2020

The Virgin Australia Group will make 1,000 of its 8,000 stood down employees permanently redundant, including all 220 Tigerair pilots.

Chief executive Paul Scurrah made the initial announcement on the ABC on Thursday morning, before the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) confirmed the Tigerair news hours later.

It comes after the business announced on Wednesday it was to temporarily suspend 80 per cent of its staff and would increase domestic capacity reductions from 50 to 90 per cent.

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AFAP industrial officer James Lauchland told The Sydney Morning Herald, “It is disappointing that while Virgin is trying to reassure the travelling public that it will maintain a low-cost carrier, it is dismissing all of Tigerair’s pilots at the same time.”

In an earlier short interview with the ABC, Scurrah said Virgin Australia would make 1,000 staff redundant but was in talks with 25 partners, including Coles, to try and redeploy them.

It follows a similar agreement between Qantas and Woolworths.

Scurrah said, “This is the worst airline crisis the world has ever seen. We are doing everything we can to make sure there are other income sources during this crisis.”

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Those affected are able to draw down their accrued leave entitlements, but the group warned there would be cases where people would go without pay.

Alongside the temporary stand-downs, which ensure workers still remain attached to their company, the business appeared to indicate it was intending to permanently close its New Zealand cabin crew and pilot base, and its Tigerair Melbourne pilot base.

Scurrah also hinted the business that would emerge on the other side of the pandemic would be different.

“We plan to return Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia to the skies as soon as it’s viable to do so, however, I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis,” said Scurrah.

The Transport Workers Union praised Virgin Australia’s management for engaging with the union but asked the government to do more.

National secretary Michael Kaine said, “We are pleased that Virgin at least has agreed to discuss how workers can be compensated for the leave they have diligently built up, in some cases for their retirement. We urge other employers, like Qantas, to follow suit.”

Tigerair Boeing 737-800 (Australian Aviation archive)

He added that workers should not have to “shoulder the burden” by taking holiday time and should not be drastically worse off when COVID-19 finally abates.

Kaine said, “It is important that we plan for the end of this crisis as well as deal with the tumultuous impact of the pandemic at present. Workers need to be able to get back to work and ensure [they do] not have their entire reserves, whether it is leave, savings or superannuation funds, wiped out.”

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23 Comments

  • Mark

    says:

    From what Virgin Australia are saying it looks like they are only fending off the inevitable .

  • Agentgerko

    says:

    “This is your Captain speaking. The tins of tuna in aisle three are on special”.
    Tigerair has been a waste of space since day one. The only good thing it did was keep Jetstar honest, but at a cost of millions to VA. I just hope that VA doesn’t try to reposition itself against Jetstar as I don’t want to lose their great Business Class product, which at least as far as 737’s are concerned, is superior to that of Qantas. Love their special entrance at Mascot. Love that they make all seats available for selection by anyone and not just the back row. Love the friendly service and nice food on board. A QF without competition is not a nice thought.

  • Hein Vandenbergh

    says:

    Of course, an essentially foreign-owned business is not going to worry too much about stood-down Australian employees’ welfare (admittedly, they have their own worries right now in UK, SIN, and China). Still, it’s convenient when already staring down the barrel – as VA was – to use the current crisis to re-shape it for longer-term survival without incurring the wrath of unions of FairWork. Pretty sad and gruesome all around. Shareholders will come out of this relatively unscathed, staff not so.

  • Dennis Weatherall

    says:

    We have no airlines left to ground, such a shame ! Such a waste of professionals, thank you CHINA for keeping the virus a secret before it got out of hand !

    • John

      says:

      You are one of the very few people in Australia who know where the fault of all these lies! We must fight the evil CCP and make this country independent again!!!

  • teiemka

    says:

    Scurrah’s real heavy heart not letting a crisis go to waste.

  • Craigy

    says:

    Yesterday the message was Tigerair Australia would return when it is viable to do so. Today, all the pilots have been made redundant, ie, connection with the company cut. How many of the remaining 1000 being made redundant are Virgin pilots in Australia? Scurrah is right, the Virgin that comes out the other side will be very different.

  • AlanH

    says:

    I always thought Virgin was a low-cost carrier itself. I could never understand why they launched Tigerair in the first place. Now they want to heave it off. They can’t help but follow Qantas’ lead on everything. They have a low-cost carrier, so we have to one too! It would be comforting if they took some initiative and just did their own thing. I thought someone like Richard Branson would have insisted on it, but then he is not a majority owner these days.

    • Rocket

      says:

      They didn’t launch it, they bought it for a dollar (yes, $1) from Singapore Airlines who completely and utterly proved they are incapable of running a subsidiary. Remember the groundings, remember the passenger horror stories??? All under SIA management of Tiger. SQ were glad to offload it to VA so that if it failed, they could at least save face.
      It was part of a narcissistic campaign by the former CEO to buy regional airlines and a low cost carrier and spends hundreds of millions on things that VA didn’t really need just in an attempt it would seem to make up for the fact he didn’t get the job at QF and to get back at them as a result.

      • Forrest David

        says:

        Exactly. Totally mismanaged. Strategy driven by a dented ego. Before he bought in VAH had already blundered by starting the 777 service to the states, they would have survived that. But the other acquisitions were shear folly, as was the price and servi e war with QF. All designed to demonstrate QF had made a terrible hiring decision meanwhile proving they had made a great one.

  • Steve

    says:

    Just wanting to wish everyone in Australia’s aviation industry all the best . The situation will improve, but it’s going to be a long slow process . A big thanks to Qantas & Virgin, whom I have flown with a lot over the last few yrs , you will survive & I look forward to flying with you both again soon.

  • Allister Grew

    says:

    Virgin need to change their business model. Ditch long haul flying & aircraft. Ditch tiger air. Retain a single aircraft type.(737-800). Concentrate on regional international/domestic short/medium haul flying.

  • Ronald Spencer

    says:

    Virgin might finally work towards making a profit as it has only survived by bad use of shareholder funds Air New Zealand seen the light and bailed a while back

    • Ken

      says:

      Whom did they bail? Air NZ certainly baled out a long time ago.

  • former tiger pilot

    says:

    Tiger the Brand may remain. But make no mistake it will be all virgin pilots.
    No Tiger office staff escape this either. They are shelving the AOC.

    • Rocket

      says:

      Alan Jones is a know all windbag. Isn’t he one of those that was talking up businesses ten or so years ago, making it look like comment and then it was outed that he and others were taking cash to work a ‘good word’ for people into conversation.
      Years ago, he rang a mate that worked at the airport live on air on his show… and said words to the effect “Oh, things aren’t going too well there at Qantas are they mate”… when the person he called said “Mate, I work for Ansett” he got off the phone faster than the speed of light. Just a BS artist and no, don’t find anything he said about Scurrah or in that interview compelling. Just the usual Alan Jones BS.

    • Rocket

      says:

      He’s the same moron that a few weeks ago was saying Covid19 is a beat up.

  • James

    says:

    Virgin need to pay Tigerair Pilots their entitlements in FULL; As of March 30th, Virgin/Tiger have FAILED TO PAY and are trying to renegotiate the terms of “daily rates” for AL payouts! Its on the payslips you receive! lol
    Talk about being dishonourable Virgin. You sacked them and treated them like garbage, so pay them and let them move on!

  • Casper

    says:

    Tiger actually made a small profit before VA took over.
    After that no chance with VA skill set.
    VA is 91% owned by overseas airlines, how can it be justified to use Australian tax payers money to bail them out.

  • Edward L Fletcher

    says:

    Single aircraft is a bullet to the head

  • Alan Pace

    says:

    Re any Melbourne’s help or bid on anything re Airlines or related matters, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. That ANSETT & TAA were largely Murdered by Howard & The Sydney ‘Push’ is undisputed. VIC’s have been BURNED ONCE TOO OFTEN. Unless something extraordinary or even on some higher power intervenes & actually gives VIC a ‘CERTAINTY’, forget ALL HELP!

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