It is no surprise that 2021 was a bad year for aviation globally, however, for many players, a timid recovery…
Virgin Australia Rebounds One Year After Relaunch
One year after new owners Bain Capital took charge, Virgin Australia expanded its fleet and is looking forward to restarting normal operations as border restrictions ease.
In April 2020, Australia’s second-largest airline went into voluntary administration. The effects of the pandemic took their toll on the airline’s finances, and it was unable to secure the required support. The new owners took over on Nov. 17, 2020, and following a difficult 12 months with border closures and travel restrictions, all of Virgin Australia’s staff will finally be back at work by Dec. 1.
Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka spoke at a staff event recently and confirmed the entire workforce would be stood up by next month. In addition, a further 600 roles will be advertised across five states to support the introduction of new aircraft, including engineering, pit crew, cabin crew and corporate positions.
On top of that, the Virgin Australia Group has just signed letters of intent for seven new Boeing 737NG aircraft. After starting with an initial 58 737s, these new aircraft will bring a total of 737s to 84 aircraft in the airline’s fleet. It has also just added a further 2 Airbus A320s to their Regional Airline branch based in Perth, Australia, giving it a total of seven in addition to their Fokker 100s.
International operations will also resume in December. Australia endured 20 months of isolation from the rest of the world, but international borders were finally allowed to reopen from some states in November. With many Australian citizens desperate to get away, Virgin Australia has scheduled some popular holiday destinations just in time for Christmas. Flights to Fiji will resume on Dec. 16, followed by Indonesia and New Zealand.
“We are really positive about travel restarting as borders open more fully. We have used our time well while the industry was quiet and are well advanced on all aspects of our transformation strategy and we fully intend to continue growing with demand to ensure we operate at roughly 33 percent of the domestic market,” Hrdlicka said. “This enables us to continue to deliver the right mix of destinations with high frequency to support both our business and leisure purpose guests. It also means continued jobs growth at Virgin Australia and our team are delighted to be welcoming new family members to the organisation.”
The Rise Of Domestic Competition
Virgin Australia’s growth comes as Australia’s domestic borders gradually open up. After being locked down for the last several months, most domestic borders should be open by next month as states reach the 80% vaccination target. The airline has also announced 12 new domestic routes in the last couple of months.
This time, Virgin Australia faces new competition in the domestic market. It was the airline’s demise in 2020 that spurred Regional Express to expand its fleet and network, as it saw an opportunity to compete against national carrier Qantas.
Australia’s largest independent regional airline took delivery of six B737s last year and after a few months on the sidelines, they have just re-entered service. Primarily competing on the golden triangle routes between Melbourne, Australia; Brisbane, Australia and Sydney. In addition, a brand-new Australian airline plans to start operations in 2022 called Bonza.
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