Twenty years after Richard Branson launched a low-cost Australian airline, then called Virgin Blue, the carrier is reported to have gone into voluntary administration.

Virgin Australia, which has a network of domestic and international flight, is around A$5bn (£2.55bn) in debt.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen passenger numbers collapse, the carrier applied for a A$1.4bn (£715m) bail-out from the Australian government – which was refused.


The government of Queensland offered $200m (£102m) in aid, but it was contingent on federal funding.

Virgin Australia’s headquarters are in Brisbane. It employs around 10,000 staff directly and indirectly provides employment for 6,000 more.

Since the Covid-19 crisis began, Virgin Australia has been flying a much-reduced network and some repatriation flights on behalf of the government in Canberra.

Last week, the airline suspended trading in its shares on the Australian stock exchange.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has barely a 10 per cent share in Virgin Australia. Other investors include Etihad, the Abu-Dhabi based airline; HNA of China; and Singapore Airlines.

The carrier has code-share arrangements with a wide range of airlines, including Virgin Atlantic: the UK-based carrier is continuing with operations to and from London Heathrow, with a much-reduced schedule.

There have been widely expressed concerns that the failure of Australia’s second airline would lead to the flag carrier, Qantas, sharply increasing fares.

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