Virgin Australia plans to cut pay and hours for some of its workers as part of big changes to make the airline sustainable after COVID.
Virgin Australia plans to cut pay and hours for some of its workers as part of big changes to make the airline sustainable after COVID.

Virgin staff face pay cuts of up to $150k

Virgin Australia pilots could have their pay cut by $152,000 and flying hours significantly reduced under a proposal put forward by the airline to increase efficiency and save cash.

Virgin Australia is locked in enterprise agreement negotiations with staff following the takeover by US investment giant Bain Capital last month.

One Boeing 737 pilot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said his pay would fall about $152,000 to $87,018 due to fewer flight hours and a lower hourly rate.

Once travel demand returns the pilot's pay will be rise to about $174,037 - $65,000 less than pre-COVID levels - and remain frozen for three years.

Virgin's proposal, which it hopes to finalise with staff and unions by the end of October, was described as "draconian in its timing and its requirements" by the pilot.

He said Virgin was "rushing" an agreement which would usually take up to two years to finalise.

The airline, which became corporate Australia's largest COVID-19 casualty when it collapsed into administration in April, is quickly working to lower its cost base as borders remain shut and travel demand is low.

Virgin Australia is in negotiations with its staff over pay and hours.
Virgin Australia is in negotiations with its staff over pay and hours.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia said the company needed to reduce its cost base to remain competitive.

"The changes we are seeking will shape a future for our airline that is sustainable for the long term and will mean we can save more jobs," she said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated our industry and the impacts are expected to last for a number of years, and this makes the need for change even greater.

"We are targeting all areas of our business to reset our cost base and get the certainty we need to be able to plan for our future flying schedule when demand returns."

Virgin formally emerged from administration last month when Bain Capital purchased the airline.

Staff have feared Bain's push for Virgin to become a low-cost airline will result in job losses and pay cuts.

Virgin pilots are concerned about 180 of their colleagues, mostly Queenslanders, could be made redundant.

The pilot has written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Opposition to shine a light on the inner workings of the airline the government could invest $200m in.

"Those funds will be supporting the continued reduction in staff at Virgin and the continued loss of Queensland jobs," the pilot wrote.

Originally published as Virgin staff face pay cuts of up to $150k



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