Virgin Australia will suspend all international flights until June, and ground its entire widebody fleet, as it continues to reel from the impact of coronavirus outbreak.
It will also cut domestic capacity by half until June, up from a previously announced cut of 5%.
Virgin Australia states that it was cutting all international flights from 30 March owing to new travel restrictions announced by the Australian government, as well as measures imposed by countries across the world.
“Virgin Australia will operate a reduced international schedule between now and 29 March, to enable Australians to return home and visitors to return to their point of origin,” it says.
On the domestic front, the carrier says capacity cuts are due to weakened travel demand. It adds that it will be working through route and schedule details now, and will inform its customers in the coming week.
In total, the Virgin Australia Group – which also includes Tigerair Australia – will ground 53 aircraft across its international and domestic units. These include all five of its Boeing 777-300ERs and six Airbus A330-200s, as well as 34 737s and six A320s.
Virgin Australia’s move to cut capacity comes a day after compatriot Qantas announced similar cuts to its network, including grounding nearly its entire fleet of widebodies. The Oneworld carrier will be cutting international capacity by 90% and domestic by 60%, until end-May.
Virgin’s cuts also follow its suspension of earnings guidance for the current financial year “due to ongoing uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation.”
In response to the growing fallout over the coronavirus outbreak, Australia announced a A$715 million ($430 million) relief package for its aviation industry, which include waivers on fees and charges.