Aviation

Virgin Australia to introduce new domestic services, as pilots vote in favour of new enterprise deal

Virgin Australia will introduce two new direct services ahead of the September school holidays, as the airline pivots its network schedule to reconnect Australia in new ways.

The new services, focused on markets with open borders, include the resumption of flights between Adelaide and Darwin from 6 September and the introduction of a brand-new direct service, never before operated in the airline’s 21-year history, between Adelaide and Launceston, commencing on 7 September.

To kickstart the launch of the services, Virgin is offering the following one-way economy sale fares until midnight this Friday (13 August) or until sold out.

Virgin’s group chief commercial officer, Dave Emerson, said the airline was focused on reconnecting Australians in new ways and creating more travel opportunities.

“With open borders between South Australia and Tasmania and Northern Territory, we’re able to finally start direct flights between Adelaide-Darwin, as well as offer a new direct service between Adelaide-Launceston,” he said.

“I don’t know about others but for me, there’s no better way to clear the lockdown cobwebs than heading off to experience a new place or reconnect with old friends.”

Meanwhile, roughly three-quarters of Virgin pilots have voted in favour of a new enterprise agreement amid aviation chaos brought by sweeping lockdowns.

The pilots’ agreement is the final deal to be voted up by Virgin workers since the airline’s new owner, Bain Capital, took the reins last year.

It will now go to the Fair Work Commission for approval – the final hurdle in Virgin achieving all seven new agreements across its workforce.

John Lyons, president of the Virgin Independent Pilots Association (VIPA), said the new pilots’ deal comes at an important time.

“The current aviation climate provided difficult circumstances for workers to negotiate, yet by standing strong and united, Virgin pilots have succeeded in achieving a good package,” he said.

“Given the fatigue of more than a year of uncertainty and a yo-yo effect of stand-ups and stand-downs, pilots have held out to ensure the best possible outcome for themselves and their families, while ensuring they can do their jobs at the high standards expected of the airline.”

Michael Kaine, national secretary at the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), welcomed the result and commended Virgin pilots for standing strong during a tumultuous period.

“We congratulate Virgin pilots for achieving good outcomes and ensuring certainty for the future,” he said.

“Signing off on a decent enterprise deal enables pilots to focus solely on the important job of getting planes safely into the sky.

“Virgin’s new owners have now worked with unions and their members to achieve sensible outcomes for workers across the board – a stark contrast to Qantas’ callous approach to illegally axe and outsource workers to prevent them exercising their legal rights to bargain or take industrial action.

“The federal government should take stock and ensure workers right across aviation are supported so that the industry remains safe, secure and viable once demand for flights returns to normal.”

The TWU and VIPA are set to merge in the coming months following approval from the Fair Work Commission.

A specialist pilots’ division will be created to give pilots a voice as they join TWU members covering cabin crew, baggage handlers, ramp workers, aircraft cleaners, caterers, refuellers and security workers in the fight to lift standards in aviation.

The TWU and VIPA worked together during the Virgin administration, pushing new owners Bain Capital to ensure a full-service airline to maximise jobs, with regional and international divisions, tiered class and lounges.

Both unions have also called on the government to adopt a national plan for aviation to save jobs and businesses, and to guarantee affordable, reliable air travel in Australia, including to regional areas.


Featured image source: iStock/BeyondImages


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