Coronavirus: Virgin Australia cuts all international flights

The airline employs 10,000 people across Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
The airline employs 10,000 people across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Photo credit: Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia has announced the suspension of all of its international flights from later this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an announcement made to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on Wednesday morning, the company said the suspension would begin on March 30 and run through until June 14.

The airline employs 10,000 people across its network and it's understood around 200 of these are based in New Zealand.

"The changes announced today will affect our people and we are having constructive discussions with team members and relevant unions," Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said in a statement. 

"Wherever possible, we will aim to avoid redundancies by fast-tracking measures such as the use of accrued leave, leave without pay and redeployment."

Virgin Australia operates flights to Asia and the United States, as well as across the Tasman to Aotearoa. The airline will also be cutting its domestic services by 50 percent.

The airline will be grounding 34 of its Boeing 737, five 777s, six Airbus A330s, six A320s and two ATR-72s.

Virgin Australia says travellers with new or existing bookings between now and June 30 have the option to change their flight to a later date, and/or a different destination, without charge. Ticketholders who no longer wish to travel can also cancel their flights and keep a voucher of the same value as the booking.

"We are committed to supporting our guests during this period and have set up a dedicated customer care hub to manage the surge of customer queries and travel changes," Scurrah said.

"We are also acutely aware of the important role airlines play in supporting connectivity, tourism and the nation’s economy, and are maintaining most of our domestic routes, and instead reducing frequencies in our schedule."

Virgin Australia's announcement comes after Qantas slashed 90 percent of its international flights and Air New Zealand reduced its capacity by 85 percent.

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