Virgin Australia is continuing its push to hire hundreds of new staff, as the Omicron squeeze reaches its end.
According to Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka, the airline is currently on the hunt for cabin crew, ground services workers, engineers, pilots and corporate staff.
Virgin announced back in November that it would begin recruiting for “hundreds of new roles”, amid welcoming an additional seven Boeing 737s to its fleet.
However, these plans were likely placed on ice in January when the airline was forced to slash flight capacity by 25 per cent due to the Omicron outbreak.
It all comes just over a year after Virgin was officially relaunched under the ownership of Bain Capital, and nearly two years after the struggling airline first entered administration.
“We’ve done a lot of hard work over the course of two years making sure we’re a different company now,” Hrdlicka told A Current Affair.
“People’s jobs are safe, we’re excited about the future and there’s nothing but optimism to look forward to,” she added.
According to Virgin, new staff can expect generous benefits, including heavily discounted airfares for themselves and their family, free travel credit up to $1,000 per year, and up to six weeks paid annual leave.
Workers will also be offered free parking at airports, an on-site physiotherapist, and the ability to earn Velocity frequent flyer points while working.
Virgin Australia’s training centre in Sydney is already bustling with new cabin crew recruits.
“This group we have today are initial cabin crew, they’re a group of 21 students. Some have returned from other airlines and from Virgin previously,” crew training instructor Matthew Nicolson said.
Nicolson is himself a returning Virgin alumnus, having been made redundant during 2020 after 10 years at the airline.
“I think not knowing when the industry would return to normal or bounce back in some capacity was the hardest,” he said.
New cabin crew are put through a six-week full-time training course before they board an aircraft, to learn the job and how to perform in emergency situations.
Cabin crew must also pass examinations on these abilities before taking their first flight.
“We have people learning different safety moves to ensure they’re well prepared when they step out on the line for the first time for this class next week,” chief people officer at Virgin, Lisa Burquest, said.
Last month, Virgin Australia said it will slash its flight capacity for January and February by 25 per cent and place its recently resumed sole international service to Fiji on hold, as it navigates the current Omicron outbreak.
According to the airline, travel demand subdued due to the new outbreak ripping across Australia, causing people to cancel their bookings last minute due to isolation rules.
Meanwhile, the industry continues to face an ongoing staff shortage, with frontline workers repeatedly sent into seven-day isolation due to being deemed close contacts of confirmed COVID cases.
As a result, Virgin has slashed capacity across its network and suspended all flights on 10 of its routes, including its one international service to Fiji – less than one month after reinstating the service for the first time since the airline entered administration in 2020.
Despite the myriad of schedule changes, Hrdlicka said the measures will not impact the business or its customers long-term.
“One thing we have learnt from the last two years is that we need to keep adapting as circumstances change. So, we will continue to do that, and have made some temporary changes to our network to manage the current environment,” Hrdlicka said.
“We do know that as we make the shift to living with COVID-19, there will continue to be changes in all our lives and we look forward to continuing to connect our guests with their families, friends, colleagues.”