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.
- Guests with new or existing domestic and international bookings through to 30 June 2020 have the option to change their flight to a later date, and/or a different destination, without incurring a change fee. Guests who no longer wish to travel can cancel their flight and retain the value of the booking as a travel credit.
- Guests affected by the suspension will be contacted regarding their booking. Guests who have booked an international flight between 30 March and 14 June will be contacted by Virgin Australia within the next 14 days via email.
- Travel agents will make direct contact with guests who have booked through them.
- Guests are advised that due to the large number of schedule changes they should not contact the airline unless they are travelling in the next 24 hours or need immediate assistance to return home or to their point of origin.