Virgin Australia stands down 80% of its staff amid coronavirus crisis

Virgin Australia has stood down around 8,000 of its 10,000 employees until at least the end of May and further slashed domestic flight capacity amid tightening interstate border restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

In an announcement to the ASX, the airline said it would now cut is domestic schedule by 90% following last week’s 50% reduction, and it will also suspend all flights of its low-cost Tigerair Australia service.

Most domestic flights will be suspended from March 27 until June 14, while Virgin’s previously announced international ban will remain in place from March 30 to June 14.

The 8,000 Virgin staff will take leave without pay, but the company said it was “working with more than 25 partners to identify short and long-term redeployment options.”

“There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today,” Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah said.

“The extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice.”

Virgin’s announcement follows a similar move by rival Australian carrier Qantas last week. In the wake of the deepening coronavirus crisis, Qantas stood down two-thirds of its 30,000 workforce and slashed its capacity.