Virgin Australia has slashed a string of regional routes from its network as part of its restructure after it was crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Under its new US owners Bain Capital, who took over the aviation company in late June after it went into voluntary administration, the airline has cut flights from Ayers Rock, Albury, Tamworth, Hervey Bay, Mildura, Cloncurry and Tonga “for the foreseeable future”.
“With the changes to simplifying our fleet and ongoing subdued customer demand, we have been required to make some adjustments to our network,” a Virgin spokesperson said.
“We remain committed to regional Australia and we plan to continue to fly to 20 regional destinations in Australia. We will continue to review our network as travel restrictions ease and demand returns.
“We will contact affected guests who booked with us to advise them of their options. Guests who booked with a travel agent will need to contact them directly.”
It comes after Virgin’s announcement in August to sack 3000 of its 9000 workers, discontinue TigerAir as well as cut its fleet by half from about 130 aircraft of various types down to between 60 and 80.
Virgin Australia was almost $7 billion in debt when it went into voluntary administration in late April as the coronavirus pandemic halted the global aviation industry.
The airline appealed for a $1.4 billion loan to stay afloat, but the government refused to bail out the majority foreign-owned company.
About 1000 staff were made redundant before the carrier went into voluntary administration, while 8000 others were furloughed.
At the time, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said the decision to enter administration was “necessary” and that the airline would bounce back stronger.
“It has been a necessary decision made by our board, brought on by an unprecedented global pandemic, COVID-19. This is not just something that is hurting Virgin Australia. We know it’s hurting the industry globally and is the worst aviation crisis we’ve ever seen in our history. We’re not immune to that,” Mr Scurrah said.
He added: “We’ll come back leaner, stronger and fitter, and play our role in making sure that the economy of Australia – which is currently devastated by the impact of COVID-19 – recovers as quickly as it possibly can for all Australians.”