We're not workmates, we're family' - Virgin Australia flight attendant opens up about 'devastating' redundancy

Late on Friday night, a New Zealand-based Virgin Australia cabin crew member had her worst fears realised when she received a notification on her phone telling her she had been made redundant, effective immediately.

Kylie Halligan had flown with Virgin Australia for more than 13 years and despite knowing her job was endangered by the COVID-19 pandemic, she didn't expect it to happen so fast.

"Within a couple of weeks we went from being told we were going to be stood down for three months, to we might close our New Zealand bases, to now being redundant," Halligan told Newshub.

"It moves so quickly."

'We're not workmates, we're family'
'We're not workmates, we're family' Photo credit: Newshub.

An email was sent to all of the airline's Kiwi employees on Friday night.

"Unfortunately we are in a position where we must take this necessary step to safeguard our future, and while you may not agree with this outcome, I hope you can understand it," the email said.

Halligan said she does understand and hopes the company comes out the other side of this crisis continues to fly, but will hugely miss being a part of it.

Emotionally, she said the bond formed with colleagues when working in the air is unique, and doesn't exist in any other industry.

The loss of that work family is devastating.

"We always say we're not workmates, we're family," said Halligan.

"We spend a lot of time away from home and away from our families. We miss special occasions, Christmases, birthdays.

"I'm sure a lot of travellers will remember the fun we used to have onboard those Virgin and Pacific Blue flights."

Richard Branson at the launch of the rebranded Virgin Australia in 2011.
Richard Branson at the launch of the rebranded Virgin Australia in 2011. Photo credit: Getty Images

Virgin operated in New Zealand under the Pacific Blue brand when it first launched here in 2007.

"I think we had more fun at work than most people have at the best parties they've ever been at," Halligan said.

Despite being acutely aware of how much the aviation industry has changed in such a short time, Halligan is optimistic about what awaits her and her work family on the other side of this crisis.

"I wish every single one of them good luck going forward, and hope that we come out the end of this somewhere that we love almost as much."

Virgin Australia has said its Australian-based crew will operate their Trans-Tasman flights once border restrictions are lifted and they are able to resume.