Brisbane-based Virgin Australia is the latest airline to crumble amid the COVID-19 crisis. The carrier has become the biggest airline to fail having been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 and its devastating impact on global aviation was the final straw.
Virgin Australia hasn't had a strong balance sheet for the longest time. Prior to the decimated international and domestic travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, Virgin Australia had already reported seven consecutive years of losses.
Canberra refused a request from the company for a A$1.4 billion loan. The carrier's collapse comes as the Australian government rejected Virgin Australia's pleas for financial aid since the airline is a majority foreign-owned company. Over 90% of Virgin Australia's shares are controlled by Singapore-based Singapore Airlines, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Chinese conglomerate HNA Group.
While Virgin Australia will still be operating very limited domestic and international flights, the carrier has entered voluntary administration in an attempt to recapitalise the ailing business. For those who are wondering, ‘voluntary administration' is the Aussie equivalent of bankruptcy.
According to Virgin Australia, Deloitte has been appointed as the administrator and will work closely with Virgin Australia to help the airline restructure and refinance so it can be brought out of administration as soon as possible.
The CEO of Virgin Australia Paul Scurrah stated that the difficult decision had to be made as the airline needs to be fixed up as ‘Australia needs a second airline'. Qantas Airways would monopolize the Australian skies if Virgin Australia were to stop operating and throw in the towel altogether. As such, it is more crucial than ever that Virgin Australia ‘emerges in a stronger financial position on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis'.
Virgin Australia isn't the only airline to be denied financial aid from the government. Just recently, it was reported that South African Airways could be near its end as the South African government had denied the airline's request for financial assistance, despite the airline being the state-owned flag carrier of South Africa.