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Virgin Australia: 10 more planes and 220 staff back to work

Virgin Australia: 10 more planes and 220 staff back to work

Things seem to be going well for CEO Jayne Hrdlicka and Virgin Australia.

Alan Joyce might be claiming to have swiped 30% off their business customers, but Virgin is doing well enough to lease 10 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft and return 220 staff – mainly ex-international and now-defunct Tiger Airways back into the reborn airline.

a room with a couch and chairs
Virgin Australia, new Adelaide Lounge

Post administration

That’s not bad for an airline thrown into administration by the pandemic last year, but now running around 850 weekly return flights in domestic operations. Virgin suspended all its international operations, returning its 777 fleet to lessors, and selling the planes it actually owned.

Hrdlicka in an interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast this morning said Virgin were eager to get back to short-haul international flying including New Zealand, Bali, the Pacific and Japan. Virgin has already announced its intention to return to Trans-Tasman flying in September.

To fly to Bali and Japan, Virgin is going to need more than its newly swollen fleet of 68 Boeing 737-800s. The maximum they can fly is 3,695 km whereas Sydney to Tokyo is about 7,818 km.

a plate of food and a drink on a table
Virgin Lounge, Adelaide

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

It would be good for Virgin to return to international flying, especially around the region. However, that’s a lot of investment, and a whole lot of risk, especially with the opening of Australia’s borders and the vaccine rollout both up in the air.

If I was a betting man – I’d think that 2021 is optimistic, and would be putting my money on 2022.

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