“Aviation is critical”: Douglas Shire impacted by Virgin administration


Karlie Brady


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The news that Virgin Australia had gone into administration yesterday sent chills through the tourism industry including that of the Douglas Shire, however, as Virgin fights for its life, local leaders believe that should Virgin go under another airline will step up.

Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD), Tara Bennett, said the potential loss of Virgin Airlines could be devastating for the region’s visitation.

“Aviation access into Cairns accounts for 69 per cent of travellers to the Port Douglas and Daintree region, making carrying capacity the single most important factor for visitation,” she said.

“Aviation is critical and Virgin is an important carrier for domestic and international travel but it is too early to tell what the impact on the Douglas Shire would be.”

“TPDD has been lobbying Tourism Events Queensland and the Federal Government to provide aviation support to the airline carriers for this interim period as well as long term support,” Ms Bennett said.

Should Virgin Australia collapse, the Qantas Group, which includes Jetstar, would be the only major airline network bringing tourists to the region and would have no competitors to control ticket prices, however, Ms Bennett doesn’t believe Australia would be a single carrier network country for long.

“If we do see Virgin leave there is a strong belief that a new airline will fill the space,” she said.

The Virgin Australia Group announced yesterday that it has appointed voluntary administrators to recapitalise the business and help ensure it emerges in a stronger financial position on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

“The intention of the administrators is to undertake a process to restructure and re-finance the business and bring it out of administration as soon as possible,” a statement from Virgin Australia said.

There are also a number of potential investors believed to be circling the embattled company.

Douglas Shire Mayor, Michael Kerr said unfortunately, COVID-19 is leaving its mark on tourism across the world.

“We can only hope that the administrators find a way to re-capitalise the business and continue it through to the other side of this epidemic so the country continues with competing airlines,” he said.

“We have seen the collapse of many airlines in this country from TAA, Ansett, Australian, Impulse and Compass, just to name a few.

“We have been very lucky to have had the stability we have had over the past years. So I have no doubt that someone will see the market and step in when the time is right,” Mayor Kerr said.

Virgin Australia is still operating all scheduled flights which are helping to transport essential workers, maintain important freight corridors, and return stranded Australians home.

Virgin Australia added that already booked flights and travel credits at this stage remain valid.

The Velocity Frequent Flyer Program, while owned by the Group, is a separate company and is not in administration, however, a temporary pause has been placed on redeeming frequent flyer points.

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