Virgin slashes 3000 more jobs, no timing on return to NZ

Voluntary adminstration gives Virgin temporary protection from outright collapse. Photo: Reuters
Virgin has no date on when it will return to New Zealand saying that would depend on the easing of border restrictions and the return of demand. Photo: Reuters
Virgin Australia will cut a further 3000 jobs, quit long haul flying and ditch its low cost Tigerair airline as it fights its way back from voluntary administration.

It has no date on when it will return to New Zealand saying that would depend on the easing of border restrictions and the return of demand.

The airline is now owned by Bain Capital and in a statement to the ASX says it will retain 6000 jobs. It started the year with 10,000 but has since closed its New Zealand cabin crew and pilots' base with the loss of hundreds of jobs on this side of the Tasman.

Virgin Australia will revert to an all Boeing 737 fleet as it pulls back from long haul flying to Asia and the United States. It says there is not sufficient demand to operate both the Virgin Australia and Tigerair brand on domestic operations.

Its Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and A320 aircraft will be returned to leasing companies along with turboprop ATRs.

Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah said demand for domestic and short-haul international travel was likely to take at least three years to return to pre-Covid levels.

"Even when we do see a return to pre-Covid levels of travel, successful airlines will be influenced by demand and look very different than the way they did previously, requiring long-term capital a lower cost base and be more focused on providing exceptional experiences."

The airline hoped to build its staff back up to 8000 when the market recovers.

All travel credits and frequent flyer points will be carried forward and booking dates extended.

Scurrah said many Australian airports were reporting travel volumes at around 3 per cent compared to last year.

By ditching long haul international routes - which were marginal before the pandemic - the airline can concentrate on its domestic battle with Qantas.

Private equity firm Bain bought Virgin Australia after it collapsed into administration in April owing more than $2 billion to unsecured creditors. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson had a holding of about 7 per cent before the Bain buyout.

Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline today filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States while it restructures in Britain.

More than 20 airlines have failed or sought bankruptcy protection since the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out much air travel from February.

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