Virgin cuts afternoon update: Everything you need to know

written by Adam Thorn | March 25, 2020

Virgin Australia announced it is to stand down 80 per cent of its staff and increase its domestic capacity reductions from 50 to 90 per cent from Friday until 12 June. Tigerair services are suspended immediately.

The decision will affect 8,000 workers, who will be able to draw down their accrued leave entitlements. It follows a dramatic escalation in state border restrictions, which on Tuesday saw Tasmania and Queensland ban all non-essential travel.

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Virgin has said it’s talking to 25 partners to provide stood down staff with short- and longer-term work during the crisis. The move follows Qantas’ discussions with Woolworths.

However, it warned that, for some, “leave without pay will be inevitable”.

The group capacity cuts will mean temporarily grounding 125 aircraft and suspending services to 19 destinations. However, the airline group will continue to operate “near daily” services to 17 locations to transport essential services, freight and logistics.

This is in addition to the earlier announced move to halt all international flights from 30 March to 14 June.

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Significantly, the business plans to close its New Zealand cabin crew and pilot base, and its Tigerair Australia Melbourne pilot base and is in consultation with staff. Virgin operated lounges are already shut.

Chief executive Paul Scurrah released a lengthy statement announcing the decision, saying, “There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today and the extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice.

Virgin Australia has announced unprecedented cuts (Australian Aviation archive)

“We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country’s history. From the end of this week, we will begin repositioning and grounding more than 125 aircraft in our fleet, suspending almost all our domestic and international flying until at least the middle of June.

“I know our people have been working tirelessly to help guests get home ahead of the various state travel restrictions and their efforts should be applauded as they adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

“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.

“My focus has been on guiding this company through the crisis, and at the same time ensure the business is set on a sustainable path when the recovery eventually comes.

“I am only too aware of how much our people are hurting at the moment and these very tough decisions have weighed heavily on me and my leadership team. We are talking to our teams and we are working hard to do what we can to protect jobs and extend payments for as long as possible.”

The move was hinted on Sunday night after Prime Minister Scott Morrison effectively banned interstate travel.

On Tuesday, states and territories moved rapidly to close, or essentially close, their borders.

However, NSW and Victoria are still holding firm. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday, “I’m not interested in closing our borders, I don’t think that makes a lot of sense for us. I have no advice to close our borders and I think it might well be a drain on precious resources, because you can’t have a rule and then not enforce it.”

NSW has made a similar commitment.

The Transport Workers Union confirmed it is working with Virgin Australia to help affected staff.

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5 Comments

  • Its staggering that despite the airline coming to its knees they still talk of Tigerair coming back alongside Virgin Australia.
    Richard branson has been shamed into putting GBP215m back into the Virgin Group but no sign of any of this coming to Virgin Australia.
    If the Government comes to the party on this 90% foreign airline surely the shareholders/Directors should give Guarantees to pay the money back and not declare any dividends until Australian taxpayers get their money back. like Rex we shouldn’t subsidise foreign owned and controlled airlines.

    • Richo

      says:

      Is this the same Neil Hansford supposed Aviation Expert and Consultant?

      Suggest you go and find out and understand how Foreign Investment and ownership works as you have no idea!

      The workforce of Virgin Australia is Australian and Australian based ie, live here – happy for them to be unemployed are you – to see 10,000 people lose their jobs!

      Both Ford and Holden (among others) were 100% Foreign owned but both received Government subsidies for years – workforce’s of both were Australian and lived in Australia and paid taxes to the Australian Government – likewise the Virgin workforce.

      There is in actual fact more Foreign Investment on a Nominal Basis in Qantas than there is Virgin, and Joyce wanted the restrictions on that to be lifted so there could be even more – total hypocrisy from him on this and everything he says and does on this issue.

      Sounds like you a stooge of his!

  • Ray

    says:

    why is it instantly the taxpayer responsibility to assist people who only just get laid off ,
    i have not had a income since last november & i don’t ask for help ,
    surely people must have some holidays or savings etc , it’s going to tough times for everyone, & i bet i don’t get the stimulus money either ,

    • James

      says:

      Ray,

      We/I/the government may not know your circumstances. Perhaps you had opportunity to gain employment prior to this, I don’t know.

      This is an aviation magazine providing us with information. If you’re in the aviation industry like I am, you should know now is not the time for “what about me, I’m worse off than you etc etc.”

      If you’re not in the aviation industry, sook to Facebook.

  • Craigy

    says:

    Tigerair Australia will return when viable to do so. I have a feeling it will be determined that it isn’t viable. Virgin International will also have a major restructure before resuming operations.

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