SYDNEY (Reuters) – Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (VAH.AX) said on Thursday that it would land all domestic flights, except for one Sydney-Melbourne daily service until June 15, as it continued to seek government assistance to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
FILE PHOTO: A Virgin Australia Airlines plane was spotted at Kingsford Smith International Airport the morning after Australia imposed a ban on entry for non-citizens and non-residents who intended to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia, 21 March 2020 REUTERS / Loren Elliott / Photo files
Rival Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX), which is in a stronger financial position, said on Thursday it had also made more cuts to its domestic network but for now it still flies to every capital city and more than 25 regional destinations.
Virgin has asked the government for a loan of A $ 1.4 billion ($ 862.68 million) which can be converted into equity under certain circumstances.
Government ministers have indicated that any assistance is likely to be industry-based rather than specifically for Virgin.
“We continue to talk with airline executives regularly as we navigate this unprecedented situation,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Thursday.
“All levels of government, airports, airlines and all sectors need to work together to ensure the Australian aviation industry emerges from this crisis in the best position.”
Virgin said the latest capacity cut was due to government restrictions that have reduced travel demand.
Qantas said it expected to carry 95% fewer passengers during the Easter weekend holiday than last year. It flies five flights per week from Sydney to Melbourne, down from almost 50 a day before the virus attacks.
Virgin has cut all international flights except the government rescue charters, terminated most of its workforce and permanently cut all pilots at low cost Tigerair Australia and all crews based in New Zealand.
It will continue local and international cargo flights, the airline said.
Virgin shares are tightly controlled by a group of foreign airlines including Singapore Airlines Ltd. (FUCK. SI), Etihad Airways and the Chinese conglomerate HNA Group which also experienced a sharp decline in revenue due to the coronavirus crisis.
The Australian Government has announced a number of assistance to the broader aviation industry, including refunds and waiver fees such as A $ 715 million in domestic air traffic control costs and A $ 198 million in support for regional flights.
Coronavirus has infected about 1.5 million people worldwide, while more than 87,000 people have died, disrupting lives and businesses when the government imposes a lockdown to stop the outbreak.
To track interactive graphs of global spread of viruses: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar