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Virgin staff must back Brisbane, says Queensland minister

written by Adam Thorn | April 29, 2020

Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 departs Brisbane Airport in 2019 (Craig Murray) Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800

Queensland’s State Development Minister Cameron Dick has urged Virgin Australia staff to show their support for a reborn airline remaining in Brisbane, ahead of a crunch shareholder meeting on Thursday.

The intervention comes alongside the TWU urging the government to consider a stake in the business, which it says is “inevitable” and “highly desirable”.

Administrators Deloitte’s first creditors’ meeting will gather together parties such as aircraft lessors, bondholders, employees and the parent company of Velocity Frequent Flyers.

Minister Dick’s statement comes as Queensland faces an apparent bailout bidding war with NSW and Victoria to woo a reborn Virgin Australia away from Brisbane.

“Virgin staff are big players in the process as creditors with upwards of $400 million worth of entitlements,” Minister Dick said. “The workers have made it clear through representatives, the Transport Workers Union, they would not support moving headquarters out of Queensland. At this time, the last thing Virgin staff need is the disruption and dislocation of an interstate move.”


Meanwhile, the Transport Workers Union has also stepped up the pressure on the federal government to intervene, now the business is in administration.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “This is not a normal voluntary administration process and the government needs to recognise this. Australian aviation is critically important to our national economic and security interests. Decisions made now about Virgin’s future will ripple through the coming decades, creating serious ramifications for travel, tourism and many other industries.

“The government should therefore expedite its next move so that everyone can have confidence and clarity about its vision for a stable second airline and the stability of aviation into the future. A Commonwealth stake in Virgin is inevitable and highly desirable if our industry is to return to health, maintain its workforce and serve the national interest.”

On Monday, Australian Aviation reported how Perth Airport impounded four Virgin aircraft with heavy machinery as it seeks to recover $160 million in outstanding debt.

The next day it was revealed Velocity Rewards, which ultimately oversees the frequent flyer business, was also seeking $150 million.

The airline group confirmed its collapse last week. After the announcement, Strawbridge and Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah revealed that more than 10 parties have expressed interest in recapitalising the company, which they described as being “very sophisticated parties”.

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Comments (7)

  • Greg Stevenson


    It’s not in the Federal Governments’ interests to ‘bail out’ Virgin as only ten percent of this company is Australian owned.

  • Paul


    Not up to staff. Whoever becomes the majority shareholder will decide where the HQ will be located. This Qld Minister has zero clue as to how this works.

    • Nathaniel


      So very true! He doesn’t have too much on all.

      Same goes for many, many people who’ve NO clue how an airline works.

    • Hugo


      Agree. Whoever buys VA will need to do a full assessment of the operations. Brisbane/QLD may have been great for a budget leisure carrier, but is hardly center of commerce for the ‘new world carrier’ it wants to be. Even if it’s only (or 95% other than US) a domestic carrier capacity out of Melb or Syd is always going be greater. There’s cost with moving HQ and people etc, but at the end of the day, the company that purchases VA will and should do whatever keep it going and ensures the most jobs for everyone at VA. The bleating and indignation from the QLD premier and other ministers recently is no use if you’re only going to pony up $200M. As for workers deciding, I’m sure there would be huge inconvenience in a move, but I’m sure they’ll maintain a significant presence in QLD…. a job is a job… if you want to keep it, then you shoudl go with whatvere allows VA to survive.

  • Bernard


    Hopefully a minimum number of pilots, engineers, cabin crew, ground and airport staff-most of customer face to face people who put up with a lot of rubbish can keep their jobs and mum and dad shareholders get a fair deal on their shares. I hope office staff are kept on too. But they all might be faced with a choice of moving location or find new job. Big players involved overplayed their hand with too much debit so accept your losses and learn, just like those with 5 or more houses and only 5% equity for example might have to learn..Airline industry so much more important than you, need to keep that infrastructure that takes so long to build up in place.

  • Anton


    If Virgin Australia wants to get out of voluntary administration, I suggest it time for them to return all leased aircraft back to their lessors.

    • Gerrard


      They’ve filed, in the US, for Chapter 15 Bankruptcy.
      There’re 4 Virgin Aust aircraft undergoing maintenance in Nashville currently.
      This move is to protect aircraft being seized by US creditors’.
      This move maybe rejected by the US Govt.

      Time will tell.

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