Only one day after its founder Richard Branson offered his own private island as collateral in exchange for government aid, Virgin Australia has collapsed into administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline announced on Tuesday that it had voluntary administration while it continues to seek monetary aid, making it the first major Asia Pacific airline to lose business as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
However, the company remains hopeful that it will “emerge stronger on the other side of this crisis.
In a statement to the Australian stock exchange, the airline confirmed it will continue operating all scheduled flights, “which are helping to transport essential workers, maintain important freight corridors, and return Australians home.”
According to CNN, Virgin Australia has stated there is no immediate plan to lay off any of its 10,000 employees or 6,000 workers that are indirectly employed.
However, CEO Paul Scurrah states, “The carrier already halted most operations in recent weeks, with 95% of flights cut and 80% of the workforce temporarily off the job.”
Dear @VirginAustralia team. I am so proud of you and everything we have achieved together. This is not the end of Virgin Australia, but I believe a new beginning. I promise that we will work day and night to turn this into reality https://t.co/GJH1zhEqEd pic.twitter.com/GelLiA6DKG
Vaughan Strawbridge, a partner at Deloitte in Australia who is serving as a voluntary administrator, said the company had started looking for new owners or investors to help recover the business.
“The intent is to seek to sell the majority, if not all of the business, as one,” said Strawbridge. He added that over 10 parties have already expressed interest in taking a stake.
In a Twitter message to Virgin Australia, Branson thanked all employees before calling out the Australian government for not stepping in.
“I want to assure all of you — and our competitor — that we are determined to see Virgin Australia back up and running soon,” he wrote.
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