Virgin Australia to shed about 3000 jobs

About 3000 jobs will go at Virgin Australia under a trimmed-down vision of the carrier, which has been hit by turmoil in the aviation market caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline, which is readying to exit voluntary administration under new owners, says its plan to cut costs, shed aircraft and refocus on domestic and short-haul international travel means it can’t support more than 6000 jobs.

“While these changes are important to manage the impact of COVID-19, they involve some very tough decisions,” Virgin Australia chief executive and managing director Paul Scurrah said on Wednesday.

“We expect approximately 3000 jobs will be impacted as a result of the changes.”

This equates to a third of Virgin’s workforce.

But when the aviation market recovers, Virgin plans to pick up 2000 extra workers, although it warns that might not be for at least three years.

Mr Scurrah also announced Virgin’s low-cost offshoot Tigerair will be shut down due to a lack of customer demand but it may consider resurrecting a similarly positioned carrier in the future.

Meanwhile, Virgin will streamline its fleet by shedding its Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s, Tigerair Airbus A320s.

It will retain the Boeing 737s and regional and charter aircraft.

The airline will concentrate on its core Australian domestic and short-haul international operations and supplier contracts will be reviewed as part of an overall cost-cutting mission.

“Demand for domestic and short-haul international travel is likely to take at least three years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the real chance it could be longer,” Mr Scurrah said.

The group has been struggling under billions of dollars worth of debt and the impact of the pandemic on the passenger jet market, which has led to the near-collapse of international travel and a huge slump in domestic markets.

When it was forced into voluntary administration earlier this year, the airline’s woes attracted a pack of private equity firms and other parties keen to acquire the airline before Bain Capital came out on top.

While the binding sale agreement with Virgin’s administrators is still to be ticked off by creditors, it’s expected to be completed in coming weeks.

Its Brisbane corporate headquarters will be retained, albeit it at new offices in the city’s Southbank district.

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