Virgin Australia axes deal with Royal Brunei Airlines, as state-owned hotels hide on social media

Kota Kinabalu Sabah Malaysia - Feb 22, 2016 : Royal Brunei aircraft Airbus A319 taxing at Kota Kinabalu Airport. Kota Kinabalu airport is the most busiest airport in Borneo.

The backlash over Brunei’s harsh new laws that include punishing homosexuality with the death penalty has been turned up another notch, with Virgin Australia launching its own boycott.

Staff at Virgin were notified in an email on Wednesday that the airline had decided to end its staff leisure travel agreement with Brunei’s national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines, in the wake of the the Southeast Asian country’s new laws.

The Islamic laws, which were introduced earlier this week, make sodomy, adultery and rape punishable by death-by-stoning. Public flogging as a punishment for abortion also applies, as well as amputation for theft.

“Given the harsh (including death) penalties being introduced for activity that is legal and acceptable in Australia, the myID agreement between Virgin Australia and Royal Brunei has now been terminated effective immediately,” the email to Virgin staff said.

A Virgin spokesperson told Travel Weekly that the staff travel agreement was for the sole purpose of employee leisure travel benefits only, and that the airline does not sell seats on Royal Brunei.

“Under a separate interline ticketing agreement, Royal Brunei sells seats available on Virgin Australia aircraft for select routes within Australia,” the spokesperson said.

“There is no change to this particular agreement.”

Virgin’s move comes as the federal government has been called on to ban Royal Brunei from Australia, with an online petition garnering more than 17,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Brunei-owned hotels go into hiding

Meanwhile, a number of hotels owned by Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s investment company have shut down their social media accounts in the wake of a boycott led by celebrities George Clooney, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres.

Brunei Investment Agency owns nine luxury hotels across the US and Europe, including legacy institutions such as Beverly Hills Hotel, London’s The Dorchester and Paris’ Plaza Athenee.

However, when you search for any of these hotels on Twitter, their profiles no longer exist.

The nine hotels are part of the Dorchester Collection, which has pinned the following tweet “in light of recent events”:

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