Get InQueensland in your inbox Subscribe

16,000 workers stood down as Star shutters gambling, Virgin cuts more flights


More than 16,000 people were stood down today as Virgin Australia cut almost all flights and Star Entertainment shuttered its gambling operations at casinos in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sydney.

Print article

It is the biggest grounding of aircraft in Australian aviation history and Virgin has warned shareholders and the public that it may look very different in the future.

The two companies are headquartered in Brisbane and it’s likely the biggest impact will be felt there and on the Gold Coast in another devastating blow for the tourism sector. The stand down of workers by Virgin is expected to last until May.

Its New Zealand cabin crew and pilot base will also close as will Tigerair’s Melbourne base.

Virgin said its domestic capacity would be reduced by 90 per cent, up from 50 per cent previously. It will also temporarily ground 125 aircraft. The suspension of flights will last until June.

The remaining 10 per cent of its domestic capacity will be retained for transportation of essential services, critical freight and logistics. Tigerair Australia will stop flying immediately.

The company said the COVID-19 impacts to its cost base have prompted a consolidation of its domestic and short-haul international businesses and put a pause on some supplier agreements.

In addition to its service cuts and shutdowns it will also pause key supplier agreements.

“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,” managing director Paul Scurrah said.

“We plan to return Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia to the skies as soon as it is viable to do so, however, I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis.

“I am only too aware of how much our people are hurting at the moment and these very tough decisions have weighed heavily on me and my leadership team. We are talking to our teams and we are working hard to do what we can to protect jobs and extend payments for as long as possible.”

Star said apart from ceasing all gaming it would also close its food and beverage, banqueting and conferencing offerings, with the limited exception of in-room dining services for hotel guests.

Hotel accommodation services would remain open in a reduced capacity at this time.

“The shutdown of the casino properties will have a material impact on The Star’s operations,” it said in a statement to the ASX.

The company said it would conserve liquidity and minimise impacts. It maintained about $480 million in undrawn debt and cash.

“We are in the process of temporarily standing down over 90 per cent of our approximately 9000 employees.

“These stand-downs include senior management.”

Workers will receive two weeks of paid pandemic leave and will be able to access any accrued annual and long-service leave entitlements.

The board and senior management will also forego a significant percentage of entitled directors’ fees and salaries respectively.


More Business stories

Loading next article