The Federal Government has announced that Virgin and Qantas will receive financial support to maintain limited and affordable domestic flying routes for 8 weeks as part of a $165m package to help them navigate the coronavirus crisis.
In an announcement this evening, the Federal Government said the Commonwealth would underwrite the cost of some flights to all capital cities and around 11 regional centres over the next eight weeks.
The very welcome news means that financially struggling Virgin Australia will be able to run its domestic schedule until early June, enabling it to reinstate 200 pilots, cabin crew and ground staff.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that anyone can go and hop on a plane now, but it does ensure that both Virgin and Qantas can keep the wheels turning on their businesses thanks to government backing while playing their part in supporting the country’s essential transport needs.
In a statement following the news, Virgin Australia said “As a major Australian airline, we are proud to support the Federal Government in returning passengers home and enabling essential travellers to continue flying during this time,”
Virgin Australia will operate 64 return services from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth and has advised passengers who are trying to rebook a cancelled flight to do so online with their Travel Bank credit.
Virgin Australia says their schedule will commence tomorrow (Friday 17 April 2020) and run for a period of eight weeks, until 7 June 2020.
The news comes after Virgin Australia went into a trading halt on Tuesday to reassess the restructuring of its $5 billion debt and $1.4 billion bailout request to the Federal Government.
It’s important to stress that this news does not mean that Virgin Australia’s financial woes are saved, as this package is not reflective of the airline’s debt nor their bailout request to the Federal Government.
The initial eight week run of flights would be reviewed after eight weeks, or mid-June said Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
“As Australians are asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary, we are ensuring secure and affordable access for passengers who need to travel, including our essential workers such as frontline medical personnel and defence personnel, as well as supporting the movement of essential freight such as critical medicine and personal protective equipment,”
Transport Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack
“We know that a strong domestic aviation network is critical to Australia’s success and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment, yet again, to maintaining connectivity during this pandemic.
“This investment will also help Australians returning from overseas, who find themselves in a different city after 14 days of mandatory quarantine, complete their journey home safely.”
The $165m Federal funding is in addition to the $1 billion support already handed out to Australian airlines to help ease the financial impact of COVID-19.
Qantas is yet to announce further details of their schedule and commencement date.
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