The Virgin Australia Group has suspended all international flights from 30 March to 14 June, and will reduce domestic capacity by 50 per cent for the same time period.
The cuts, which include Virgin and Tigerair, amount to the equivalent of grounding 53 aircraft. More details on exactly which flights and routes will be axed are to be published over the next week.
The business has maintained it will try to avoid additional redundancies by fast-tracking staff taking accrued and unpaid leave. It also announced additional options for passengers who want to change their travel plans in light of COVID-19.
Chief executive Paul Scurrah said, “We have responded by making tough decisions, which include reducing our domestic capacity and phasing in the temporary suspension of international flying for a period of two and a half months.”
Virgin’s suspension of all international flights includes the grounding of five Boeing 777s, one Airbus A330 and 14 Boeing 737s.
Prior to the 30 March start date, the following services will be affected:
- Melbourne to Los Angeles services suspended from 20 March.
- Inaugural Brisbane to Haneda service, postponed from 29 March.
- Inaugural Melbourne to Denpasar service, postponed from 29 March.
The airline said it would operate a reduced service between now and 29 March to “enable Australians to return home and visitors to return to their point of origin”.
Meanwhile, group domestic capacity will reduce 50 per cent until 14 June 2020, which includes the grounding of 20 Boeing 737s, six A320s, two ATRs and five Airbus A330s.
Scurrah said, “We have entered an unprecedented time in the global aviation industry, which has required us to take significant action to responsibly manage our business while balancing traveller demands and supporting the wellbeing of Australians.”
The group has announced additional measures to help customers who want or have to change their flights. It has also set up a “dedicated customer care hub” to manage a surge of queries.