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Virgin to hire 250 new staff and increase capacity

written by Adam Thorn | May 20, 2021
A Virgin 737-7FE, VH-VBY, as shot by Victor Pody

Virgin is set to hire an extra 250 staff, including pilots, ground staff and baggage handlers, in addition to the 150 new cabin crew roles unveiled last month.

The airline made the announcement alongside revealing plans to launch five new services and significantly increase frequency across its network, including by 30 per cent on the ‘Golden Triangle’.

Chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said the business had turned a corner from the worst of the pandemic.

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“Growing confidence in the community, thanks to the vaccination rollout and domestic borders staying largely open, means the time is right for us to bring back jobs and put more aircraft in the skies,” she said.

Virgin will introduce five new services to allow for greater connection from capital cities to major regional destinations: Adelaide-Cairns, Perth-Cairns, Sydney-Townsville, Melbourne-Townsville and Sydney- Darwin.

It will also increase flight frequencies to key Queensland destinations, including Brisbane, the Whitsunday Coast, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Townsville, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast by up to 40 per cent.

Finally, services on the so-called Golden Triangle between Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne will increase by 30 per cent to support business travel, with an average of 100 flights every day by October.

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“Virgin Australia is supporting over 6,000 jobs, which is something we flagged in August last year as the baseline number of jobs we hoped to support as the domestic market recovered,” said Hrdlicka.

Last month, Virgin pledged to hire 150 new cabin crew, return 220 from its axed long-haul operation and lease 10 new 737s.

It said it was “committed” to restoring its pre-COVID market share, despite Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce repeatedly claiming his airline group would increase its slice of the domestic industry from 60 to 70 per cent. Qantas said it would soon by flying more aircraft on their domestic routes than before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, this week Rex said it would rival Virgin and Qantas to fly Melbourne–Canberra from 10 June using one of its new 737s.

It follows last month’s launch of the Sydney-Canberra service, where Rex now operates seven return flights each weekday, alongside flights to the Gold Coast and Adelaide, as well as Sydney and Melbourne.

The new “capacity wars” have seen Rex and Qantas engage in a war of words, which has included Joyce mocking Rex’s “empty aircraft” and Rex deputy chairman John Sharp branding his rival “technically insolvent”.

Just this week, Rex called Virgin “a weak competitor” and accused Qantas of ripping off customers, a claim the flag carrier strongly denies.

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