Virgin Australia 2.0 is set to take wing under the ownership of Bain Capital with a very different approach to the airline which collapsed into administration almost 20 weeks ago.
"We intend to be our own version of an airline – we intend to follow the lead from our customers in terms of what they want," says CEO Paul Scurrah, promising to "fly profitably, price rationally, and reflect the confidence Bain has put in us."
Free from the mountain of debt accumulated over the years that Virgin sought to challenge Qantas head-on, the rebooted airline will drop many domestic routes where the numbers simply don't add up, even if that means ceding more of the overall market to Qantas.
“I do expect we will lose market share because there are routes that weren’t making any money,” Scurrah noted at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit. "There will be markets where we do want to hold our own. We are looking at it market by market rather than nationally."
Some routes could be handed over to partners such as Alliance Airlines, which already operates a number of regional Queensland flights on behalf of Virgin Australia.
Virgin's own 'restart' network will be flown by a smaller number of Boeing 737s than the 80-strong fleet it had before administration, roughly half of which was owned and half leased.
Scurrah said he expects to have between 30 and 60 Boeing 737s in the air by the middle of 2021, depending on demand.
“We’re not putting numbers on the starting fleet,” he said. “We need to be flexible. With the arrangement with lessors we can do that.”
That flexibility will also be needed to ramp up short-range international services, primarily to New Zealand.
"If New Zealand opened up soon, we’d jump at it, because we’ve got aircraft we want to deploy. New Zealand is a part of our future plan, so as soon as we can be back there, the better."