Aviation

Agent confidence “of paramount importance”: Virgin Australia bidder to honour pre-paid tickets

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Virgin Australia bidder Cyrus Capital has committed to protecting and honouring the estimated $100 million worth of pre-paid tickets for flights purchased through travel agents.

Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) chair Tom Manwaring had written to Virgin Australia administrator Deloitte as well as the two remaining bidders, Cyrus Capital and Bain Capital, seeking urgent confirmation that these tickets currently held with the beleaguered airline would be safe.

Jonathan Peachey, senior adviser at Cyrus Capital, confirmed “without hesitation” to AFTA that if the bidder was successful in becoming the new owner of Virgin Australia, tickets booked and paid will be honoured.

“Consumer and agent confidence in Virgin Australia is of paramount importance to Cyrus Capital,” he wrote in an email to Manwaring.

“Cyrus acknowledges the important role that agents play in the travel and tourism industry, and we appreciate the faith that agents have placed in Virgin Australia during recent months.

“In the event that changes to Virgin Australia’s flight schedule are necessary as operations increase, Cyrus will ensure that affected customers receive credit to rebook on alternative Virgin Australia flights.”

With 12 years’ experience as the lead shareholder in Virgin America, Peachey said the private equity firm knows firsthand that customers and employees “are the lifeblood of a Virgin airline”.

“Rewarding customer loyalty is also important to Cyrus, especially at this time, and if Cyrus becomes the new owner of Virgin Australia, points held by members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program will be protected and honoured,” he said.

“I trust this email provides comfort to your members’ customers that we have their interests very much in mind, and I truly hope that Cyrus will have the opportunity to bring its deep airline experience to bear in working with Virgin Australia management to return the airline to financial health and long-term prosperity for the benefit of customers, employees and stakeholders.”

Manwaring welcomed the response from Cyrus, noting that consumers who have booked and paid in good faith must be able to fulfil their flights with the airline post-sale.

“AFTA will continue to lobby in the interests of our members and their customers,” he said.

The peak industry body is still waiting for a response from Bain Capital, while a Deloitte spokesperson told Travel Weekly that the status of tickets purchased but not honoured due to COVID-19 cancellations “will ultimately be a matter for the new owner of the airline”.

Virgin’s administrators are expected to issue a statement about the final bids following their submission by today’s 2pm deadline.


Featured image: iStock/zorazhuang

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