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Virgin attacks Qantas’ use of overseas crew in Bali row

written by Adam Thorn | January 12, 2024

Victor Pody shot Jetsar’s 11th new A321, VH-OYC.

Virgin has cited Qantas’ apparent reliance on using overseas staff as a reason it should be granted extra flights to Bali ahead of its biggest rival.

Todd Reynolds, a Virgin GM, said in a letter to authorities that his airline “staffs its flights exclusively with crews based in Australia, whereas Jetstar relies heavily on cabin crews based in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and New Zealand”.

It comes after Qantas applied to the government to operate extra services to the popular holiday island in November before Virgin replied with a counteroffer. The International Air Services Commission has to decide on a winner as there isn’t enough capacity to service both airlines’ ambitions.

Qantas wants to start daily Jetstar services between Cairns–Melbourne–Denpasar and three flights per week between Adelaide–Perth–Denpasar, using its new fleet of A321LRs. 

Virgin, meanwhile, is planning two daily services from the Gold Coast and Adelaide to Bali, both via Perth.


Qantas Group’s Anna Pritchard, who oversees government relations for the carrier, began the row by claiming Jetstar’s average prices are lower than its rival.

“During the forward-looking 180-day period analysed by Infare commencing 31 December 2023, Jetstar’s average fares are 37 per cent and 32 per cent lower than Virgin Australia’s Melbourne-Denpasar and Adelaide-Denpasar services,” Pritchard wrote.

However, Virgin and Jetstar operate different fare models with different access to baggage allowances and complimentary drinks. A comparison between Qantas and Virgin on international flying is also difficult, given the latter significantly scaled back its international ambitions following its administration in 2020.

The argument comes with Bali often ranked as Australia’s top international holiday destination, with eight airlines flying there and load factors of around 85 per cent. Qantas claimed visitors from Indonesia are also forecast to grow by 80 per cent between 2023 and 2028.

“Indonesia has been identified as a market that is expected to fully recover in 2024 and experience ongoing growth,” it said in its application.

Virgin’s argument that Qantas is relying on too many overseas crew comes after a similar intervention from Australia’s biggest cabin crew union.

In August last year, the Flight Attendants Association of Australia accused Qantas of a “breathtaking” lack of transparency over a deal that will see Finnair crew operate the Flying Kangaroo’s flights.

The FAAA said the airline suggested the agreement would save the jobs of Finnair staff but was later informed the employees would be sourced from “labour-hire” firms. Qantas strongly denied the accusation and insisted it was “very upfront” about the terms of the agreement.

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Comments (2)

  • I think Mr. Reynolds is not only out of line with his comments but also plainly out of touch with other airlines as well eg Emirates etal who’s cabin crews are sourced from world wide applicants. The days of the QF Ozzie Goddess Hostie are long gone as with the glamour of the job

  • Fergus Moffat


    I think perhaps the commentary is not so much about the nationality of individual cabin crew members as where they are based and the payscales that may apply. EH have a lot of ‘international’ cabin staff, but there is also a huge expatriate airline diaspora there. I confess I’m unaware of the extent to which EH might base cabin staff in other countries and any payscale differences that might apply.

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