Virgin Australia slumps into administration

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Virgin Australia has confirmed it has entered voluntary administration – making it Australia’s first big corporate casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

Empty Virgin Australia airline counter

The country’s second-largest carrier cut almost all flights last month following wide-spread travel bans.

It was already struggling with a long-term A$5bn (£2.55bn; $3.17bn) debt.

The airline is now seeking new buyers and investors, after failing to get a loan from Australia’s government.

Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah said: “Our decision today is about securing the future of the Virgin Australia Group and emerging on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Australia needs a second airline and we are determined to keep flying.”

Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson – whose Virgin group is a part-owner of Virgin Australia – has offered a Caribbean island as collateral to help get a UK government bailout of Virgin Atlantic.

Shares had been suspended in the firm for the past fortnight as it struggled to find a survival plan.

Canberra refused a request from the company for a A$1.4bn loan, but in the past month had announced around A$900m in support for all local airlines.

Virgin Australia has turned just two statutory profits in the past decade.

It is part-owned by a number of entities including the UAE government, Singapore Airlines, China’s HNA, and Sir Richard Branson’s Group.

It employs about 10,000 people directly and another 6,000 through ancillary businesses.

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