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No international Virgin flights for two years, says Scurrah

written by Adam Thorn | August 6, 2020

Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 VH-XFG at Townsville Airport on 6 May 2018. (Dave Parer)
Virgin Australia Airbus A330-200 VH-XFG at Townsville Airport on 6 May 2018. (Dave Parer)

Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah has said he doesn’t think the revived airline is likely to fly international routes for the next two years.

Speaking briefly to 2GB host Ben Fordham on Thursday, he also said the business’ decision to cut 3,000 roles was “heartbreaking”.

“It’s been a sad year for us as well as the aviation sector,” Scurrah added.

On Wednesday, the larger Virgin Australia Group announced it would make around a third of its employees redundant and also axe the Tigerair brand – making the low-cost carrier the country’s first major airline casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement to the ASX, the business indicated it would aim to operate as a so-called hybrid, running a mixture of services but with less of a focus on international routes than before.

“Virgin Australia aims to be the best value carrier in the market, not a low-cost carrier,” the group said.

It added that long-haul international flying would remain an “important part of the plan but suspended until the global travel market recovers”.


The new network will operate with a slimmed-down fleet, operating a 737 mainline fleet for domestic services but removing ATR, Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and Tigerair Airbus A320s.

Its regional and charter fleet will also be maintained.

“Demand for domestic and short-haul international travel is likely to take at least three years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the real chance it could be longer, which means as a business we must make changes to ensure the Virgin Australia Group is successful in this new world,” said Scurrah on Wednesday.


Currently, Australian citizens, permanent residents and even dual citizens are banned from leaving the country unless they receive an exemption. The restrictions led to Qantas and Virgin effectively halting international flights in late March, other than specific repatriations.

Australian Aviation reported in June that Qatar is now the country’s biggest international airline, with its share of passengers surging from just 3 per cent to 44.5 per cent in April.

Comments (8)

  • AlanH


    Good decision. In their emasculated state they couldn’t possibly sustain Tigerair, nor their international routes. Not sure about giving up their A-330s – they are a good economical aircraft for doing the Perth hop from the three east coast capitals. Not sure whether VARA should stay. The article says they are dumping their ATRs but in the next breath that their regional networks will be maintained … some confusion there.

  • I agree, how will they be able to maintain their regional networks e.g. SYD-ABX-SYD, SYD-PMQ-SYD, SYD-TMW-SYD without the ATR?

  • Hi Alan;
    The ATRs wee all transferred from VARA to the Virgin Australian main line operation during the period from September 2015 to October 2015.

    VARA _ Virgin Regional has 6 Airbus A320-200 aircraft (of these 5 are leased and 1 is owned by VARA). It also has 14 Fokker F100 aircraft (Of these 5 are leased and 9 are owned by VARA)

  • Mal Shipton


    How shameful that foundation pilots just given the flick with zero recognition for 20 yrs service

  • Ted


    If you mean Port Macquarie NSW, the IATA-three letter Code is PQQ……

  • William


    If the creditors’ don’t ‘sign off’ at meeting in September, they’ll be flying nowhere…………

  • Ian


    Chris Robey

    As far as ABX is concerned, any of Alliances 3 Fokkers can easily get in there. F50, F70 or F100. Even a B733 can with some restrictions due to terrain.

    Jetgo used to fly BNE/ABX & OOL/ABX. Think the BNE/ABX went to daily with 40 odd seats, that’s roughly 280 a week. A lower cost per seat F70 or F100 could surely operate BNE/ABX at least a few times a week (virgin codeshare), avoiding awful SYD. For days nonstop BNE/ABX/BNE not flown, pax could then fly via SYD as previous. VA used to fly ATR (72 seats ?) 2 or 3 times a day SYD/ABX/SYD. So with them gone, plenty of scope for 80 seat F70s or 100 seat F100s on the SYD/ABX/SYD sectors.

  • Patrick


    Why would anyone risk money buying a ticket on this failed business?
    There’s no guarantee that it’ll be worth anything moving forward.
    IF, & that’s a BIG if, Bain take it on, they’ll cut back in every corner possible to save themselves money, that’s how these types of businesses’ work.
    The phrase ‘caveat emptor’ is very relevant here, methinks.

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