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Deputy PM defends help for Virgin

written by Adam Thorn | August 5, 2020

Virgin 737-8FE lines up on runway 34 at Melbourne Airport at sunrise
Virgin 737-8FE lines up on runway 34 at Melbourne Airport at sunrise (Victor Pody)

The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has defended the government help offered to Virgin Australia on the day it announced 3,000 job losses.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Deputy PM McCormack outlined the various initiatives that were put in place but insisted the “market-led solution” would ensure the airline emerges in the “best position possible”.

The comments followed news hours earlier that Virgin Australia was planning to cut 3,000 jobs and axe the Tigerair brand.

“I am saddened to hear of today’s job losses announced by Virgin Australia and our first thoughts are with all Virgin employees, as well as their families and those businesses relying on them for their livelihoods,” said Deputy PM McCormack.

“We are living through a one-in-100-year event – the biggest challenge the aviation industry has ever faced.


“The Australian government has and will continue to support the industry through our various initiatives, which to date have seen more than $1.3 billion committed to maintaining operations across the sector and supporting jobs.

“This investment comes on top of the recently extended JobKeeper package, which continues to be available to Virgin employees at this time.

“We understand airlines have needed to make structural adjustments to ensure they can survive and ultimately thrive in the long term.”

The response came hours after a number of unions, including the TWU, spared Bain criticism but attacked the government for not doing more to help aviation.

“We urge the federal government to adopt a strategic plan for the sector so that the two-airline model can endure and that the companies which service them can stay in business,” said national secretary Michael Kaine. “The Victorian lockdown means aviation in Australia will remain on its knees well into next year.

“Other governments around the world are intervening in their aviation industries to help them plan for their futures. The federal government is failing the Australian aviation sector.”

Australian Aviation earlier reported that the bulk of the 3,000 likely job losses will come from those working in operation functions and corporate roles.

The airline also confirmed that consultation with unions will start today, and that voluntary redundancy and redeployment will be explored to try to retain as many jobs as possible.

“Our intention is to secure approximately 6,000 jobs when the market recovers with aspirations for up to 8,000 in the future,” said chief executive Paul Scurrah on Wednesday. “To those that leave the business, I want to thank them for the role they’ve played in making this a great airline.”

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Comments (8)

  • Bruce R Kendall


    I saw a TWU official bagging the federal government for not supporting VA. Like Ansett, VA had significant issues and debt. Its major shareholders refused to tip more money into it. I can only assume that the TWU is in favour of tax payers investing in a bad business. Bain is a private equity company. If the TWU thinks its members have been dealt a tough blow by the VA Administrators, Deliots, then they have another thing coming when Bain gets hold of the levers and starts to operate VA.

  • Nate


    The Fed Govt has made it very clear, on several occasions, that it won’t bailout Virgin.
    What doesn’t Kaine understand in the word ‘NO’.
    The Govt folk have more brains than unions’.

  • The Virgin/Bain statement is full of good intentions but in reality the failure to include the size of the 737 fleet to be operated hides the real number of employees. On say 50 aircraft VA 2.0 should only require 4,000-4500 employees if there is any truth in the stated relaunch model. Read carefully the announcement shows that really the 6,000 jobs or 3,000 job losses on top of the 1,000 already gone is an ambitious desire not a fixed commitment. This claim is to keep the Unions in the tent before the bondholders offer is exposed at the August shareholders meeting. Bet Scurrah wouldn’t commit to being pushed if he didn’t generate 6,000 jobs! The 8,000 target is pie in the sky and relying on a miracle.
    Virgin 2.0 isn’t a done deal and the bondholders won’t just take a short back and sides and go away and the lawyers can bank on rich pickings after August on top of the massive fees earnt out of the various bidders to date.
    Aren’t we all glad the Morrison Government stayed out of the shareholding and risking more of our money.

  • Paul Considine


    As a 777 captain with 20 years of service with Virgin – thanks for nothing

  • Vannus


    By the time Scurrah wants to ‘rehire’ his sacked staff, they’ll be in other jobs, hopefully, & won’t be able to/want to leave those.
    The staff will be thinking ‘once bitten, twice shy’ about going back to the airline that got rid of them, in the first instance, even with the galling ‘gift’ of an autographed ‘plane photo!
    All that experience lost, & all that cost of training possibly new staff.
    A trained airline worker can step into other areas’ of work, but not v.v.
    That’s just the way it is.

  • Rod Pickin


    I call upon Michael Kaine to expand on his unsupported statement that our Federal Govt. is failing the Australian Aviation Sector. I would be most interested to hear from him as to what he thinks the Govt. should be doing right now!

  • S.Jaaxon


    Should have stayed at NJS.

  • Linda Weaving


    Why should our taxes be given away to an international investment corporation? That’s what Virgin is now. The company was never Australian anyway. None of its profits stay in Australia. They’ve sacked thousands. They don’t give a stuff about workers. They don’t deserve a single cent!

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