As Virgin Australia moves to cancel 90% of its domestic flights and stand down 80% of its workforce, a VA flight attendant has made news after her aircraft landed in Dunedin. After going through the standard touchdown welcome, she then made a heartfelt speech thanking passengers and fellow crew for their support throughout these turbulent times.
We’ve called the skies home for so long
The blog, Rene’s Points picked up on the story. The flight attendant, identified as Cassy, said there was every chance this could be “our last operating flight” and was “certainly the last for the foreseeable future.”
“As crew, we’ve called the skies home for so long it’s a little surreal knowing we’ve come back down to earth this one last time.
“To our guests, thank-you so much for your smiles and interactions. It’s you how much our days so enjoyable and in a world full of choice, we are incredibly thankful that you have chosen Virgin Australia.”
You can watch Cassy’s farewell speech below.
Today has been a hard day for us all. We truly believe it is our people that make a difference. Cassy, one of our New Zealand based Cabin Supervisors, put into words what many of us haven't been able to today. Kia kaha to all our Kiwi #VirginFamily ❤️💜 pic.twitter.com/difc6IWj9G
— Virgin Australia (@VirginAustralia) March 25, 2020
Cassy and her co-workers face an uncertain future. Virgin Australia is canceling the majority of their remaining services at the end of this week. 8,000, or 80% of their workforce will be stood down until May. Yesterday, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said in a statement;
“There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today and the extraordinary steps we’ve taken have been in response to the federal and state governments’ latest travel advice.”
The heat is on the Virgin Australia CEO
The uncertainty surrounding the employee’s fate is exacerbated by speculation about the future of Virgin Australia. The airline says it has a solid financial position but that’s not a view that is widely shared.
Speaking to Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National’s Breakfast show this morning, Paul Scurrah defended his airline and its ongoing prospects. Mr Scurrah said airlines had to assume the freeze on travel was going to be for a while and airlines had to have to financial capacity to survive it.
“We don’t know how long this will go on for. We’re hopeful that it will be over quicker than some are predicting, but we just don’t know, so we’ve had to make some very hard decisions.”
When asked if Virgin Australia, with nearly all its leased aircraft grounded, could continue to survive, Mr Scurrah said hard decisions like those made yesterday would set the airline up to manage its way through the crisis.
Does Virgin Australia have enough cash reserves to remain solvent if this crisis goes on for another six months?
The ABC interviewer cut to the chase and asked Mr Scurrah this very question. He referred to the recent Standard and Poor’s report stating Virgin Australia had a very strong liquidity position in the face of the crisis.
“We’ve taken very hard decisions to make sure we slow down the cash burn and we do so with the strong intent of getting through this. But it is a challenge. What I’ve said to the (Australian) government is if this goes on for a prolonged period, every airline will be turning to the government for assistance.”
All of which will be little comfort to airline workers like Cassy. Finishing her farewell speech to passengers, she summed up well how everyone is feeling.
“We wish you all the best during these testing times. Please take care of yourselves, your neighbours, and stay safe.“