Momentum appears to be swinging behind Virgin bidder Cyrus Capital Partners after it secured the support of both the Flight Attendants Association of Australia and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association.
FAAA secretary Teri O’Toole said, “Cyrus are not dipping their toes in aviation, they actually know what they’re doing and they’re taking this on with eyes open.”
Union support will be vital in deciding who will win the contest as the airline’s employees together account for 9,020 of the total number of creditors and are owed $451 million.
“They’ve got the airline experience and they really understand the Virgin culture and the brand value,” O’Toole said.
Meanwhile, ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas was similarly positive about the bid, telling The Sydney Morning Herald, “They have an intimate knowledge of the Virgin brand and what makes it successful.”
The TWU, the largest union, has yet to publicly back either bid, but has made positive remarks around both bidders.
It comes alongside reports that suggest the Sir Richard Branson-linked party has secured the support of on Macquarie Group to inject equity into its bid.
Rumours have continued to link the bid to both the state of Queensland and the British businessman.
On Monday, Australian Aviation reported that Cyrus Capital adviser and former Virgin America CEO Jonathan Peachey revealed the bidder wants to make the reborn airline a mid-market “hybrid”.
According to Peachey, Cyrus hopes to streamline and simplify the airline – which he said has become a “little too complex over the years”.
Running a smaller network, the investment group then hopes to reposition the airline to “sit below that very top tier of where Qantas plays so strongly in, and above and maybe overlapping slightly where Jetstar sits”.
“We don’t intend to take it back to the Virgin Blue days, the pure low-cost carrier of the past,” Peachey said. “The brand has evolved, the business has evolved and the market has evolved as well. We don’t think the market needs that, with Jetstar’s presence.
Virgin Australia last week surprisingly announced it was to double its current capacity in July, matching a similar move by Qantas.
The airline will add 30,000 seats across 320 flights and will include interstate services to Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, allowing many stood down workers to return.