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Free snacks gone: Virgin reveals new future

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, passengers walk past a Virgin Australia sign at Sydney Airport in Sydney. Virgin Australia's creditors agreed Friday to sell the airline to Boston-based Bain Capital in a deal that will see the carrier cut 3,000 jobs and end many of its international flights. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Virgin Australia has revealed its new look. AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

A refreshed Virgin Australia hopes to offer travellers on a budget a premium experience, the new CEO revealed on Wednesday.

The embattled carrier announced it had exited voluntary administration on Wednesday as CEO Jayne Hrdlicka delivered the airline’s new vision, which features major changes to in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi and food.

Complimentary snacks will be replaced with a purchase-only menu, although coffee, tea and water will remain free, while in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi is under review.

Seating on the flights will be three-tiered with business, economy x and economy, although Virgin Australia is still reviewing its business class product.

Customers will use self-service and assisted check-in in most airports, and there is no change to Virgin’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program.

“The travel environment is changing and so are our customers’ preferences,” Hrdlicka said.

“We know that leisure travellers, small and medium businesses, and many corporates are now emerging from Covid-19 wanting better value. They are hungry for flexibility and choice, a trusted brand that resonates with their values, and great prices, along with the premium features they value most.”

Alluding to Qantas and Jetstar, Hrdlicka said Australia already has low-cost and full-service carriers, and that Virgin Australia hopes to sit between the two.

“As we have seen with the recent issues with South Australia, the travel market remains uncertain. We are however seeing some positive signs of recovery. Borders are beginning to open and a potential vaccine is on the way.

“We expect continued volatility, but as demand recovers, we’ll achieve a market share consistent with our pre-Covid position and continue to invest in, and grow, the fleet in line with increases in demand.”

Virgin Australia sunk into voluntary administration in April as it struggled to beat $6.8 billion debts. International private equity firm Bain Capital bought Virgin, and within months replaced then-CEO Paul Scurrah with former a2 and Jetstar boss Hrdlicka.

Under Bain Capital, the company also announced 3,000 staff would be made redundant.

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