australian aviation logo

Virgin overtakes Qantas as Australia’s most trusted travel brand

written by Jake Nelson | October 26, 2023

Victor Pody shot this Virgin Australia 737-800 and Qantas 787-9.

Virgin Australia has dethroned Qantas as Australia’s most trusted travel brand following months of bad press for the Flying Kangaroo.

The Roy Morgan survey, now in its second year, saw consumers turn away from Qantas – last year’s inaugural winner in Travel and Tourism – for its main rival following a plague of negative headlines for much of 2023, a reputational firestorm that forced the early exit of ex-CEO Alan Joyce.

“I have flown Virgin ever since they arrived in Australia, they are always open and honest with me, even with flight delays the line of communications are open,” said one consumer surveyed, in what Roy Morgan said drew “a clear contrast with their primary competitor”.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said that despite high inflation and rising interest rates, Virgin and other winners had maintained consistently high levels of trust and minimal distrust when compared to their competitors.

“The importance of trust in our world is often under-appreciated, but without trust, the world we live in doesn’t function and the simple day-to-day rhythms of life aren’t possible,” she said.


“Over the last year we have witnessed many examples of how a lack of trust, and rising distrust, can destroy a brand’s reputation and provide a direct hit to the bottom line. How a brand responds to these challenges can define whether that company has a future or will wither and fade into irrelevance.”

Qantas’ brand has been rocked this year by damage from “several fronts”, as the airline acknowledged in a September statement.

The ACCC is taking the carrier to court accusing it of selling tickets to 8,000 flights it had already cancelled, news that broke at around the same time as Qantas bowed to pressure and removed the refund deadline on COVID-19-era flight credits. Last month, the airline also lost a last-ditch appeal to the High Court over the sacking of around 1,683 ground workers during the pandemic.

New CEO Vanessa Hudson pledged in a video message to customers last month that the Flying Kangaroo would overhaul its customer policies.

“I know that we have let you down in many ways, and for that, I am sorry,” she said. “We’ve often been hard to deal with. We understand why you’re frustrated, and why some of you have lost trust in us.

“I know that our people have tried their absolute best under very difficult circumstances. I want you to know that we’re determined to fix it to improve the experience for you and to support our people better.

“We want to get back to the national carrier that Australians can be proud of. That’s known for going above and beyond. We understand we need to earn your trust back, not with what we say but what we do and how we behave.”

Qantas last month invested $80 million over the 2024 financial year into addressing customer “pain points”.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.