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Virgin Australia stands down staff across marketing, partnerships, media and brand

Virgin Australia has stood down staff members across its brand, consumer and media teams as the airline continues to face the fallout from travel restrictions and non-existent revenue as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Rapthi Thanapalasingam, head of brand, consumer and media at Virgin Australia, said standing so many team members down was potentially the toughest day she’s had in her career.

Virgin could emerge from this crisis looking quite different 

“Today was the toughest day I’ve had at Virgin Australia, maybe even in my career, having had to stand down so many team members for a couple of months,” she said on LinkedIn last week.

She urged her network to employ the stood-down staff – with skills in brand marketing, campaign management, partnerships marketing, media planning and design – for short-term projects.

Virgin Australia said the impact on people of these stand-down decisions was significant, so it wouldn’t be offering a team-by-team commentary.

It did, however, point to a statement from the brand in late March, which noted it had to reduce its cost base in order to emerge on the other side of this crisis. 8,000 of its 10,000 strong workforce will be stood down until at least the end of May.

CEO and managing director Paul Scurrah noted the way the company operates in the future may be quite different to its traditional structure.

“My focus has been on guiding this company through the crisis, and at the same time ensure the business is set on a sustainable path when the recovery eventually comes,” he said.

“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.”

Over the weekend, Virgin Australia kicked off a campaign warning the public about the dangers of a future in which Qantas is Australia’s only surviving airline. It called on regulators to “keep the air fair” and warned “a monopoly in Australian skies will be good for no-one”.

The ad on page 28 of Saturday’s The Daily Telegraph (Click to enlarge)

Danielle Keighery, Virgin Australia’s chief experience officer, added on LinkedIn: “We know everyone wants us to keep the air fair. We have been doing it for 20 years and are determined to do it for many more years to come.”

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