Virgin Australia cuts a quarter of flights in face of Omicron

Virgin Australia has cut one in four flights from its schedule in January and February, with hundreds of scheduled flights not resuming until the end of June.

The Omicron COVID variant has caused major staffing issues industry-wide and diminished demand for travel.

The rising number of cases have plunged thousands of workers into isolation and caused mass cancellations of holidays.

The airline has suspended nine domestic routes and its sole international service to Fiji. It will also be limiting the frequency of some busier flights to accommodate lower staffing levels.

“Virgin Australia is dedicated to the communities that we serve and will resume these flights as soon as possible,” Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said.

“Although we don’t know when this wave will pass, we do know that as we make the shift to living with COVID-19 there will continue to be changes in all our lives.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to any guest impacted by the changes to our flight schedule during this time,” said Ms Hrdlicka.

Virgin Australia said that it welcomed changes by governments on isolation policies for workers in critical industries and wants the government to extend this support to essential workers in the aviation industry.

The airline said that all impacted guests will be accommodated by an alternative Virgin Australia service. Where Virgin Australia is unable to provide an alternative flight, customers are advised to get in touch.

Read: Revealed: The best time to call your airline

The flight cancellations start from Monday 24 January, with some services not set to resume until Thursday 23 June.

Virgin Australia also cancelled some flights to Darwin in lead up to Christmas. 

The full list of suspended routes include:

Adelaide – Darwin

Adelaide – Cairns

Adelaide – Sunshine Coast

Coffs Harbour – Melbourne

Hamilton Island – Melbourne

Sydney – Townsville

Melbourne – Townsville

Gold Coast – Launceston

Gold Coast – Hobart

Sydney – Fiji

The significant reduction of services is a setback for Virgin as it plots a recovery from the first two years of the pandemic. Virgin went into administration in April 2020, prompting it to lay off around 3000 employees, or a third of its workforce, and cut its mainline fleet to 58 planes.

Read: World’s best airlines revealed: Australian carriers surprise

But the carrier, now owned by private equity giant Bain Capital, has previously laid out plans to rebuild its fleet to 84 aircraft and return to pre-pandemic levels of flying this year.

Have you been affected by flight cancellations? Do you have any upcoming holidays or are you waiting to book something? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Ellie Baxter

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