TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine told the Australian Aviation Podcast that the “jury is still out” on Virgin’s plans to become a hybrid carrier.
“Virgin needs to better articulate what the middle market means,” Kaine said. “Because it is of great concern to the workforce that it cannot be done. “
The influential industry figure was speaking to welcome Adam Thorn in the episode which is scheduled to go live on Thursday.
The airline has been adamant since leaving administration that it will not revert to its budget Virgin Blue routes, but questions have been raised as to whether it could pull off the strategy after the departure of its architect, the former CEO Paul Scurrah.
Kaine reiterated that he believes Virgin’s intentions are genuine, but hinted that more work needs to be done to make it a success.
“There’s one thing crazier than going all the way to Qantas at the top of the market, and that’s thinking you’re going to beat them at the bottom of the market,” Kaine said.
“Yes, you have to hit the sweet spot in the middle. But the sweet spot in the middle means you still need to have an attractive offer for the Australian leisure and business markets.
“They want lounges, a good loyalty system, a points system that connects perfectly with international travel when it becomes available again. And they want the ability to travel regionally.
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“And if Virgin wants political support in its efforts to become a really, really vital airline in Australia, again, it needs to make sure it reaches all of these brands.
“All of this means that the middle market means something more than a kind of hedging of your bets. You have to be viable, and at the moment I think the jury is still out on that point. “
The surprise exit of former chief executive Scurrah in November 2020 was significant because it was synonymous with the airline’s plan to operate as a mid-range ‘hybrid’.
However, his replacement Jayne Hrdlicka also insisted that the company will continue on the same path, despite reducing its fleet from 737s from 85 to 56.
“Australia already has a low cost carrier and a traditional full-service airline, and neither will we,” Hrdlicka said on his first day.
“Today we announced a plan that will give our customers what they value without the high price tag: premium lounges, a new onboard retail offering, choice of staterooms, better digital technology and more streamlined registration. to live.”
The airline also reaffirmed its intention to operate a network of national lounges that includes Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast.
On Tuesday, it even unveiled its “living room of the future” in Adelaide, which features cinder block walls, canopy ceilings, large, bright spaces and durable furniture.