The TWU has turned on winning Virgin bidder Bain Capital after a photo emerged showing the private investment firm’s team celebrating the deal at a Sydney restaurant.
In an interview with The Australian, TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said, “The private equity world may involve a culture of winners and losers, but when thousands of jobs and livelihoods are on the line we expect the gravity of the current situation to be understood and accepted.”
The intervention, hours after the airline increased flights, is hugely significant given the business’ employees together account for 9,020 of the total number of creditors and are owed $451 million.
While the deal between Bain and administrator Deloitte has been agreed, it still needs to pass an August vote of creditors.
Previously, the TWU said warm words about both of the final two bidders, and welcomed Bain’s agreement on Friday.
Kaine added, “This is not a time for celebration. Workers know that there are tough times ahead at the airline and uncertainty remains over JobKeeper and the future.
“On the one hand we have bidders celebrating with jobs on the line, and the other hand the federal government is refusing to reveal what assistance it will give to aviation workers because of a byelection.
“Bain must ensure that the management team which it puts forward to work at the airline understands this and keeps the workers and their families at the forefront of their minds.
“It is important that Bain honours the commitments it has made and ensures it has the right people leading the Virgin transition.”
The last comment will be interpreted as a nod to speculation that former Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka could take a senior role in the reborn airline, alongside existing management.
The comments by Kaine came hours after the airline added an extra 17 domestic routes for flying by 4 August 2020.
It included the resumption of flights to Newcastle, Hobart, Launceston, Darwin, Alice Springs, Hamilton Island, Maroochydore, Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Proserpine, and Mount Isa.
The increase was accompanied by a 12-hour ‘Because Everyone Loves a Comeback’ sale, which saw tickets sell for just $69.
The move was in response to a similar push by Qantas, which offered $19 Jetstar flights weeks ago.
Virgin Australia chief commercial officer John MacLeod said, “We know that Aussies are getting itchy feet and are eager to explore the country so this sale makes it easy for customers to plan and book their trip, as well as supporting our local tourism industry.”
The increase, however, still means the airline is operating a relatively bare-bone service. While Qantas is pledging to increase domestic capacity to up to 40 per cent this month, Virgin is adding to what is just 13 per cent of pre-pandemic capacity.