Virgin Australia has warned the nation cannot afford to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with a monopoly airline as it attempts to raise $1.4 billion and calls on the federal government to back its future.
Chief executive Paul Scurrah is seeking “a statement of confidence from government as quickly as we can, in much the same was as they would do for a bank”.
“We are not looking for a bailout,” he said in an interview with The Australian published on Wednesday.
“We are looking for a hand-up, for assistance to bridge through the crisis. Confidence is a very important thing for airlines.
“We are asking the government for a bridging facility and working with them to make sure there is confidence that people can look forward with certainty that there will be a competitive and robust airline industry coming out of the crisis.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week cast doubt on the prospect of a $1.4 billion bailout for the airline, following Virgin’s original request.
“I can only point to the decisions the government has made and those decisions have been made on a sector-wide basis,” he said.
After Virgin’s initial request, rival Qantas put a $4.2 billion price tag on the help it would need if targeted bailouts were dished out.
Mr Scurrah said the future of carrier’s 9500 staff was dependent on the government’s support.
“The federal government wants to emerge from this crisis with two airlines,” he said.
“And without us, it is not going to have one. We all know what would happen if there was a monopoly.”
He said Virgin Australia currently has about $800 million in cash reserves.