Virgin Australia stands down 8,000, cuts domestic flights

27 Mars, 2020, 06:56 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Coronavirus Virgin Australia shutters all airport lounges

Qantas has cut all global flights and put two-thirds of its 30,000 staff on leave but so far has maintained its investment-grade credit rating.

Qantas and Virgin have called off all worldwide routes and slashed domestic flights after Australia closed its frontiers to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Virgin Australia has extended its cuts to domestic capacity from 50 per cent to 90 per cent.

The 8,000 staff will be temporarily stood down until at least the end of May, the beleaguered airline announced in a statement to the ASX ahead of the market's open on Wednesday.

Virgin said it would try and redeploy workers and encourage them to use leave, but leave without pay would be inevitable for many.

The further reduction of the domestic capacity means the company has to temporarily suspend services to 19 Australian destinations now operated by it, and it will maintain connectivity to 17 destinations to transport essential services, critical freight and logistics.

With the state border closures happening around Australia, the airline will suspend most of its domestic flights - grounding 125 aircraft - from midnight Friday 27 March until June 14 2020.

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Virgin Australia CEO and Managing Director Paul Scurrah described the situation as "the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country's history".

"However I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis, " said Scurrah.

Data firm Cirium on Tuesday estimated the number of aircraft placed in storage since January had climbed to 3,500 - up 1,000 from a day earlier - as more airlines ground planes.

"I am only too aware of how much our people are hurting at the moment and these very tough decisions have weighed heavily on me and my leadership team", he said.

The announcement was made on Wednesday when Virgin Australia issued a press statement outlining the cancellations.

"We are talking to our teams and we are working hard to do what we can to protect jobs and extend payments for as long as possible".

The company said guests who are booked to travel between now and June 30 of this year could request a travel credit online through the website of Virgin Australia.

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