Virgin Australia will bring its Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney international ramp operations in-house from next year.
The move will see Virgin now insourcing both its domestic and international short-haul baggage handling, with around 40 ramp staff to be given extra training and upskilling. Melbourne and Sydney will begin the transition in February, with Brisbane to follow suit in May.
Virgin currently employs around 1,000 ramp staff. The change will complement the airline’s existing structure in Adelaide, uniting all Virgin’s mainline domestic and international airports under the same model.
“This is both the economically rational decision, and core to our commitment to upskilling our people and providing more hours to team members who want them,” a spokesperson said.
Virgin Australia’s general manager airport experience, Paul Woosnam, said the airline’s short-haul international operations are important to both Virgin and its customers, with 10-12 flights per day to six Asia-Pacific destinations.
“There are plans to grow in this area as we receive our new fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft, presenting great opportunities for Virgin Australia, as well as opportunities for our people to grow and develop,” he said.
“Our decision to insource these roles demonstrates Virgin Australia’s commitment to further expand our workgroup and deliver additional work and career opportunities.
“We previously committed to review all opportunities that made good business sense, and this is a great example of our business delivering opportunities for our shareholders and our people.”
The TWU has welcomed the change, with national secretary Michael Kaine saying it “stands in stark contrast to Qantas’ approach of illegal outsourcing and pushing of workers to lower-paid, more insecure work”.
“We need to return to a model in aviation where skilled and experienced workers actually want to stay in this industry – this announcement, following the sensible plan put to Bain Capital by workers this year, is movement towards that model,” he said.
“Bringing back good, secure jobs under the Virgin banner is a step in the right direction for workers, and for rebuilding aviation, after thousands were pushed out of the industry throughout the pandemic.”
Virgin last month reached a deal with its ground crew to avoid a strike, committing to create more full-time positions and avoid outsourcing, as well as re-establish its job classification structure.