Virgin Australia cuts capacity as Omicron cases rise

A Virgin Australia Boeing 737 taxis under an overcast sky.
Mehdi Nazarinia GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Virgin Australia announced it will cut capacity for January and February in anticipation of reduced travel demand and more COVID-19 cases among pilots and flight attendants, Reuters reports.

The airline said it would reduce its network by around 25%, suspending 10 routes temporarily. 

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said the surge in COVID-19 cases had affected customer confidence.

“Virgin Australia remains focused on growing its network and consumer reach and will resume services as soon travel demand improves,” Hrdlicka said in a statement.

On Monday, Australia surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases, with more than half of them recorded in the past week due to a surge in the Omicron variant driving up hospitalization numbers and putting a strain on supply chains.

In November, the carrier said it would add seven more Boeing 737NG aircraft to its fleet, nearly restoring it to pre-pandemic levels, to reach a one-third share of Australia’s domestic market. 

In summer 2020, Virgin Australia retired its Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330 jets as part of a radical restructuring plan by new owners Bain Capital.

The airline competes in the domestic market against Qantas Airways and Regional Express Holdings with a fleet of 75 Boeing 737-800s.

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