Tigerair Australia has suspended all operations from 25 March, as part of deeper capacity cuts by its parent Virgin Australia.
On its website, the low-cost carrier cited “expanded travel restrictions imposed by the federal and state governments and territories” as the reason behind its grounding.
Virgin Australia says in a stock-exchange disclosure that following the suspension, it will “commence consultation” on a proposal to close Tigerair’s pilot base in Melbourne.
Tigerair’s pilot representatives had scheduled a meeting “to talk further with the company about the details”, according to a note seen by Cirium that was sent by the representatives to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots following Virgin’s announcement. The note adds that all Tigerair pilots are to be made redundant.
Cirium schedules data shows that the grounding of Tigerair Australia will result in the loss of around 391,200 seats per month. Key trunk routes such as those from Melbourne to Sydney, Brisbane, and Gold Coast, as well as those from Sydney to Brisbane and Gold Coast are among those affected by the grounding.
News of the grounding comes after Virgin Australia Group announced on 25 March that it has extended its domestic capacity cuts from 50% to 90% for the period until June, with at least 125 aircraft now grounded temporarily.
Virgin attributed the need to sharply reduce services to “state border closures escalating across Australia”, forcing it to suspend most of its domestic flying from 27 March and international operations from 30 March. The suspensions will last until mid-June.
Virgin has reviewed its cost base and and says its “expense reduction initiatives” include further cuts to its domestic and short-haul businesses and pausing key supplier agreements.
Despite the significant reductions, Virgin will maintain flights to 17 Australian destinations to facilitate the transport of “essential services, critical freight, and logistics”.
“We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country’s history. From the end of this week, we will begin repositioning and grounding more than 125 aircraft in our fleet, suspending almost all our domestic and international flying until at least the middle of June,” says Virgin Australia’s group chief executive Paul Scurrah.
“We plan to return Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia to the skies as soon as its viable to do so, however I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis,” he adds.
Cirium fleets data shows that the fleet of Virgin Australia Airlines and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines is made up of ATR 72s, Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s and A330-200s, Boeing 777-300ERs, as well as Fokker 70s and 100s. Tigerair Australia had operated a fleet of 13 A320s and 737-800s.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Australia recently announced a A$715 million ($430 million) relief package for its aviation industry, which includes waivers on fees and charges.