Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah has been doing TV and radio interview this morning talking about the grim state of the airline industry.
He told ABC TV that about 1,000 of the 8,000 staff the airline stood down on Wednesday will probably be made redundant, AAP reports.
Earlier, speaking on ABC radio, he said that every airline in the world would need government money to survive if the coronavirus crisis went on too long and hit back at Qantas boss Alan Joyce.
As Guardian Australia reported on Monday, Scurrah has complained to competition tsar Rod Sims about Joyce’s public campaigning against Virgin, prompting Sims to tell Qantas to knock it off. Scurrah said nobody knew how long the crisis would go for.
“If it goes too long, there won’t be an airline in the world that can survive without government support,” he said.
Asked by host Fran Kelly about his complaint to Sims, Scurrah said he would “take any action I need to to make sure we get through this and our reputation is intact”.
“We need a strong aviation sector that can provide competitive pricing, it’s in the public interest and it’s in the tourism industry’s interests as well.”
Asked about Joyce’s sledge that the Australian government should not support “a company that’s owned by Singaporeans, Chinese, Abu Dhabi and a British billionaire” – a clear reference to Virgin’s shareholders.
Scurrah agreed that they should be approached for money first, saying: “As a responsible company, yeah, we have to make sure that if and when we need cash that we try every avenue we possibly can.”
He dodged questions about how long the airline could survive with its fleet largely grounded, but said any bailout of the industry should be for everyone.
“What I have said to the government is that if this goes on for a prolonged period, every airline will be turning to the government for assistance – it won’t be just us,” he said.