The Virgin Australia Group will cancel around 90% of its domestic flights from midnight on Friday 27 March 2020, as most Australian states move to shut their borders to contain the spread of COVID-19. This is in addition to the grounding of all international Virgin Australia flights from 30 March, and is a further cut beyond the 50% reduction in domestic flying already announced.
Meanwhile, all Tigerair flights will be grounded from today.
As a result of the Virgin and Tigerair cancellations, around 8,000 of Virgin Australia’s 10,000 employees will be stood down until at least the end of May. Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah says that he is aware that the airline’s staff will be hurting as a result of these “very tough decisions”.
“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,” Scurrah said.
The Virgin Australia Group currently plans to resume normal service from mid-June 2020, however this will depend on the coronavirus situation and whether demand for air travel has returned by this time. If borders remain closed beyond June, the grounding of 125 Virgin Australia Group planes could be extended.
As Virgin looks to further cut costs to offset the current unprecedented fall in revenue, it will also consolidate its domestic and international short-haul crew bases and pause some supplier agreements. This will include closing Virgin’s New Zealand cabin crew bases and Tigerair’s Melbourne pilot base.
Virgin Australia will retain limited passenger service on 13 key domestic routes over the coming months to transport critical freight and provide some connectivity for those that need to travel interstate despite the border closures. However, the following 19 destinations will no longer be served by the Virgin Australia Group over the coming months: Albury, Alice Springs, Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Cloncurry, Darwin, Emerald, Hervey Bay, Hamilton Island, Hobart, Mount Isa, Launceston, Mildura, Maroochydore, Newcastle, Proserpine, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Uluru.
Tourist destinations are particularly affected, and there will be no Virgin Australia or Tigerair service to Tasmania or the Northern Territory over the near future.
Virgin Australia’s domestic airport lounges have already been closed since Monday.
The grounded Virgin Australia and Tigerair aircraft will be parked at various airports around Australia.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Virgin effectively shuts domestic til June