Virgin Australia To Ground Almost Their Entire Fleet + 8,000 Staff Temporarily Without Jobs

by Zac George

As more countries go into lockdown around the world, airlines are very busily making adjustments to their schedules and trying to get everything under control as the damage from COVID-19 continues to unravel at unprecedented levels. Carriers around the world are quickly looking at removing aircraft from their fleet, and in worse cases, bankruptcy is awfully close.

Virgin Australia, unfortunately, hasn’t had great success in the past few years financially and that’s down to several particular aspects. With today’s news, it doesn’t look like it’ll get any easier anytime soon. The airline has today announced they will severely cutting their domestic route network. In addition to that, a lot of staff members will sadly be temporarily unemployed from the carrier.

Virgin will cut 90% of their overall domestic operations as well as Tiger cancelling all of their services immediately.

Virgin Australia To Ground Almost Their Entire Fleet + 8,000 Staff Temporarily Without Jobs

From the 27th of March, Virgin will almost pause its entire domestic network, and this is expected to switch back to normal operation from the 14th of June 2020.

With the massive reduction in services, this obviously means the grounding of aircraft is a guarantee. The airline will park up a total of 125 aircraft which will be spread across multiple destinations and airports. Alice Springs & Brisbane are prominent candidates, mainly due to the space available and no fees compared to some of our other major airports.

As far as I’m aware, Brisbane will be home to the 777’s as well as A330’s among other aircraft while Alice Springs will be home to many 737’s/ATR’s and a few A320’s.

Virgin Australia 737 Business Class

Per Virgin Australia CEO, Paul Scurrah:

“We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country’s history. From the end of this week, we will begin repositioning and grounding more than 125 aircraft in our fleet, suspending almost all our domestic and international flying until at least the middle of June.

“I know our people have been working tirelessly to help guests get home ahead of the various state travel restrictions and their efforts should be applauded as they adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

“We plan to return Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia to the skies as soon as its viable to do so, however I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis.

A few days ago on the 18th of March, the airline first announced that they would be only be making a cut of 50% for domestic. Naturally, as the situation has gotten more severe and air travel becoming incredibly restrictive, Virgin find it necessary to do this as it will massively reduce their operating costs and obviously there’s minimal passenger demand warranting flights being operated.

While this is a massive cut, it’s not at all surprising and further reflects the situation in Australia and beyond.

“My focus has been on guiding this company through the crisis, and at the same time ensure the business is set on a sustainable path when the recovery eventually comes.

“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. 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.”

Virgin Australia 737-800

8,000 staff members will be temporarily without employment

This is definitely the saddest part I have to write about, and I feel for everyone that is going through this. The airline has a total of 10,000 staff members, and only 2,000 of them will be left with a job. The airline says that employees that have been let down will be entitled to all of their job benefits, and the airline is looking to work with companies to support the workers who will be on unpaid leave. Jobs are expected to return come May this year.

Virgin has also said they also intend to close their New Zealand crew and pilot centres as well as Tigerair facilities in Melbourne.

Overall

This is saddening news, and my thoughts are with everyone affected by what was announced today. I have a lot of friends in the industry, and it’s absolutely devastating to see confusion and uncertainty.

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