Virgin Australia has been forced to make even more drastic cuts to its domestic network following state border closures, commercial lockdowns and the Federal Government’s advice against air travel unless absolutely necessary.
The airline will suspend most of its domestic flying from midnight Friday 27 March until 14 June 2020, and what remains will be a bare-bones operation, representing just 10% of the airline’s conventional domestic capacity.
Virgin says that it will temporarily suspend services to 19 destinations, but continue flying to 17 destinations at a near-daily rate "in order to transport essential services, critical freight and logistics."
Those routes will be served by a fleet that's been winnowed to only 13 aircraft – mostly Boeing 737s and Fokker 100s – with 125 aircraft being mothballed, and low-cost arm Tigerair Australia immediately grounded.
Virgin Australia's revised domestic roster
Here are the Virgin Australia domestic services which will continue to run, albeit at what the airline terms "a significantly reduced rate":
- Sydney - Melbourne
- Sydney -Brisbane
- Sydney - Gold Coast
- Melbourne - Sydney
- Melbourne - Brisbane
- Melbourne - Canberra
- Melbourne - Perth
- Melbourne - Adelaide
- Brisbane - Sydney
- Brisbane - Cairns
- Brisbane - Melbourne
- Brisbane - Mackay
- Brisbane - Perth
- Brisbane – Rockhampton
- Brisbane - Townsville
- Perth - Melbourne
- Perth - Brisbane
- Perth - Broome
All Virgin Australia flights to the following destinations will be suspended from midnight 27 March through to 14 June 2020:
- Alice Springs
- Ayers Rock (Uluru)
- Ballina Byron
- Coffs Harbour
- Harvey Bay
- Hamilton Island
- Mount Isa
- Sunshine Coast (Maroochydore)
- Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine)
- Port Macquarie*
(For Port Macquarie, Virgin Australia says it will continue to codeshare on Brisbane-Port Macquarie as well as routes between Brisbane and Bundaberg, and Gladstone operated by Alliance Airlines.)
However, the airline still insists on offering travel credit against future flights rather than the option of a cash refund.
Virgin Australia has also closed all of its airport lounges, and extended the Velocity Frequent Flyer status of all its Silver, Gold and Platinum members by one year.
"Virgin will be back, but different"
As previously reported, Virgin Australia will temporarily suspend all international flying from 30 March to 14 June 2020, while operating a reduced international schedule between now and 30 March “to enable Australians to return home and visitors to return to their point of origin.”
The cuts to flying will also mean cuts to employment, with approximately 8,000 of the airline’s 10,000-strong workforce stood down until at least the end of May.
"There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today and the extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice,” noted Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah.
“We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country’s history. From the end of this week, we will begin repositioning and grounding more than 125 aircraft in our fleet, suspending almost all our domestic and international flying until at least the middle of June.”
Scurrah added that while he plans to return Virgin Australia to the skies “as soon as it’s viable to do so, I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis."