Virgin cuts a quarter of flights as Omicron hits crew and travel demand

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday he had sent a plan for reducing isolation requirements for critical supply chain workers to the national cabinet for endorsement, to ensure supermarkets can keep their shelves stocked. Mr Morrison said he expected the exemption would be extended to other critical sectors, including aviation, by Thursday.

Virgin said that in the majority of cases, customers whose flights had been cancelled would be moved on to alternative services. The 10 routes that have been suspended from January 24 onwards include Virgin’s only international route, Sydney-Fiji.

The significant reduction of services is a setback for Virgin as it plots a recovery from the first two years of the pandemic. Virgin went into administration in April 2020, prompting it to lay off around 3000 employees, or a third of its workforce, and cut its mainline fleet to 58 planes.

But the carrier, now owned by private equity giant Bain Capital, has previously laid out plans to rebuild its fleet to 84 aircraft and return to pre-pandemic levels of flying this year.

Ms Hrdlicka said on Monday that the airline “remains focused on growing its network and consumer reach and will resume services as soon as travel demand improves”.

“Virgin Australia has been working hard to grow into 33 per cent domestic market share with a travel experience that Australia knows and loves,” she said. “We are well-placed for future growth and success, and will continue to be flexible and adaptable as circumstances require.”

The routes Virgin will suspend are:

  • Adelaide – Darwin
  • Adelaide – Cairns
  • Adelaide – Sunshine Coast
  • Coffs Harbour – Melbourne
  • Hamilton Island – Melbourne
  • Sydney – Townsville
  • Melbourne – Townsville
  • Gold Coast – Launceston
  • Gold Coast – Hobart
  • Sydney – Fiji

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