Citing a significant decline in bookings due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Virgin Australia has announced its suspending services. Here's what's changing.
What has Virgin Australia announced?
Virgin Australia confirmed it would be cutting services because of the coronavirus pandemic and associated travel restrictions. Domestic capacity will be cut by five per cent, with international capacity cut by eight per cent.
As the airline operates limited international flights, Virgin said the outbreak's impact would be minimal compared to other airlines with more of an international focus.
"As a largely domestic airline, we are less exposed to the impact on international travel, however we remain disciplined in our focus on managing capacity in response to forward bookings and continuing to reduce costs across the business," Virgin Australia Group CEO's Paul Scurrah said.
"It's worth noting that domestic operations account for 88 per cent of our passengers and 78 per cent of our flight revenue.
"Pleasingly, our travel bookings to Western Australia and local leisure destinations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Hamilton Island continue to be ahead of where they were at the same time last year. This demonstrates Australians are continuing to travel within our own backyard and support local tourism."
It comes after a Virgin flight attendant tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from an overseas flight. In a press conference, Scurrah refused to confirm what flight the attendant was on but maintained it was working with health authorities to contact any passengers at risk.
"We followed the protocols that the local health authorities have asked us to and that includes contacting passengers that may have come in contact," Scurrah said.
"I'm not confirming the flight. I can't comment on that today ... it's a matter of privacy."
As coronavirus hits industries all over the world, there's been a global downturn in people flying. And that's forced Qantas to cut costs in several ways. The most noticeable change for travellers will be a 25% cutback in the number of flights over the next six months. Flights into the United States, United Kingdom, Asia and New Zealand will all see reductions in the number of flights and the use of smaller aircraft. Here's what we can expect.
What happens to my Virgin Australia flights?
Lifehacker Australia contacted Virgin Australia to determine what flights are being affected and where passengers can view future service disruptions. It directed us to its newsroom announcement, which, at the time of writing, contains no information about specific services.
It did maintain disrupted flights would occur on days where alternatives are available for the same route.
"Services that will be reduced are mainly on markets that have multiple daily frequencies, minimising disruption to guests," the announcement reads.
Additionally, the airline said a policy was available for guests needing to change travel arrangements because of the outbreak.
"Virgin Australia guests with new or existing international bookings through to 30 June 2020 have the option to change their flight to a later date and/or to a different destination, without incurring any change fees," the announcement read. "As a result of the new measures announced today, guests with any changes to their bookings will be contacted directly with alternative travel arrangements including refunds for any routes that the Group is no longer servicing."
That cached version of the policy can be viewed in further detail here.
Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spreading quickly around the world. With the number of cases in Italy hitting 1700 over the weekend - a 50% jump in reported cases in a day - as well as a swelling death toll in China and across the world, the spread of this virus is disrupting the plans of business and holiday travellers. France has closed the Louvre indefinitely. If you have an overseas trip booked, here's what the Australian airlines say you can do if you want to cancel or change your travel plans.