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Speculation grows that Virgin Australia will announce mass stand downs

written by Hannah Dowling | August 5, 2021

A Virgin 737-8FE, VH-VUP, as shot by Victor Pody
A Virgin 737-8FE, VH-VUP, as shot by Victor Pody

Rumours have continued to swirl that Virgin Australia will follow rival Qantas’ lead and stand down over 1000 employees as a result of ongoing lockdowns and border closures across the country.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported late on Wednesday that several sources close to Virgin Australia believed the airline could make an announcement as soon as Thursday that would see more than 1,000 workers temporarily stood down from their role.

Shortly after, a report by The Daily Telegraph suggested that staff at Virgin are yet to be notified of any imminent changes to current working conditions.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said the company was “consulting with unions to manage the reduced demand in flying and the available hours of work over the next 1-2 months”.

It comes just days after Qantas announced it would also temporarily stand down 2,500 workers across the airline and its budget subsidiary Jetstar, after it saw its capacity reduce from almost 100 per cent in May to just 40 per cent in July.

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the federal government’s new Retaining Domestic Airline Capability scheme, which would see airline staff outside of COVID lockdown hotspots gain access to JobKeeper-style payments of $750 per week.

Previously, stood-down workers in aviation could only gain access to financial support if they live in areas that are locked down, through the government’s general COVID-19 Disaster Payment scheme.


The new aviation COVID aid sparked widespread confusion when it was first announced on Monday, as early reports suggested the payments were only on offer to pilots and cabin crew, and would only be offered to 50 per cent of all stood-down staff members.

Speaking exclusively with Australian Aviation, a Qantas spokesperson confirmed that all 2,500 staff members that were stood down on Tuesday, including airport workers, would be eligible for relief payments, either under the government’s lockdown disaster payment scheme or through the newly-introduced aviation support payments.

Later, a spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister’s office also confirmed that “any frontline staff employed by an airline are eligible” for the aviation-specific support program, which does include all airport or ground workers employed by an airline, however, subcontractors are not eligible.


The looming stand-downs come after Virgin was on the up, recently snatching back 28 per cent of the domestic market share, and sending Qantas’ share below 70 per cent.

Off the back of Virgin’s capacity boost, the airline announced in May that it would welcome more than 400 new staff members to its ranks, from pilots, cabin crew and ground services roles.

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’.

Virgin said at that time it would 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 said it would 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 were to increase by 30 per cent to support business travel, with an average of 100 flights every day by October.

Comments (7)

  • Graeme


    Returned yesterday on a direct Cairns to Melbourne flight on Virgin, flight almost full. Yet Qantas and Jetstar could only offer flights via Brisbane. If Virgin can manage this then you wonder what is wrong with the other airlines. There are still plenty of Victorians in North Queensland wanting direct flights to Melbourne. Unfortunately we came back to lockdown but luckily missed the last two. Well done Virgin!

  • Alan Whelan


    Although standown is unavoidable it is now time Alan Joyce took a 95% drop in wage until this is over. He has proved he doesn’t care about his staff on so many occasions. In fact maybe it would be best if he and his cohorts all resigned. I know I could do better than any off those idiots as they only care about their own pockets.

  • Ashley


    Of course they’ll have ‘mass stand downs’.
    No business can afford to pay employees’ for doing no work, brought about by this pandemic.
    Ever since Bain took over, Virgin’s not been seen in the skies’ much.
    It’ll be interesting to see how long it lasts, this time around.

  • Rocket


    If Virgin does so, I’m sure they won’t be subjected to the avalanche of criticism that Qantas has endured.

    Why is it that this airline gets a free pass all the time or seems to, by the media…….

    They fell over themselves to wax lyrical and fawn all over the CEO for years while he was virtually a one-person financial wrecking ball, spending money like a drunken sailor and never delivering a profit, not once.

    I suspect if VA contracted out their Ramp/Baggage (with substantially less favourable redundancy packages than Qantas, that they wouldn’t see the inside of a court room either.

    • Vannus


      Totally agree with your comment, Rocket.

      Unfortunately, the unions’, especially TWU, have a grudge against QANTAS, & nothing the Company does suits it.

      The media too, like to denigrate QANTAS, & its’ CEO Mr Alan Joyce, to the nth degree.
      I remember a time when it was ‘hailed a hero’ for uplifting 100’s of citizens’ from a cyclone-wrecked DRW, in 1974.
      It’s amazing how easily people forget the good that our airline does, for the sake of a few extra $ in their pockets’.

  • Jo Kerr


    It appears the PER/CNS start-up route has been placed on-hold for the forseeable future with all guests now routing via BNE.

    • Anthony


      You say ‘guests’. Stop with the Americanisation of our language!
      Maybe you should look for the meaning of ‘guest’ in the OED.

      People in the cabin PAY for a seat on an aircraft.
      They don’t go onboard for no charge.

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