Virgin Australia adds loads more flights, introduces new safety and wellbeing measures

The Virgin Australia Group will increase its domestic flying schedule and introduce new safety and wellbeing measures, as state travel restrictions begin to ease.

The additional services will see Virgin double current capacity by early July, adding approximately 30,000 seats across 320 flights per week to its domestic schedule. The full domestic schedule can be viewed here.

Virgin Australia Group chief commercial officer John MacLeod said: “It’s early days, but these services will be a welcomed boost to Australia’s tourism industry and help the nation’s economy and aviation sector to rebuild.

“The services will also give us the opportunity to bring team members back to work, who I know have been looking forward to welcoming and sharing our award-winning customer service.”

The move comes shortly after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced the federal government’s Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) program would be extended to 30 September 2020 to maintain connectivity on major domestic air routes.

Virgin will also introduce a comprehensive new set of safety and wellbeing measures, including pre-departure eligibility and health screening, contactless check-in, more frequent cleaning on board and at the airport, and expanded social distancing measures.

The measures, which will be fully implemented by 12 June, have been developed in close collaboration with airlines and airports across Australia as part of the Australian Aviation Recovery Coalition.

The measures will continue to be reviewed in line with any changes to Virgin’s schedule, the latest medical advice, government restrictions and guest feedback.

“Importantly, as travel begins to increase, the safety and wellbeing of guests remains crucial, which is why measures to minimise risks associated with COVID-19 are being introduced,” MacLeod said.

“We recommend that any guest who is feeling unwell or has flu-like symptoms, do not travel. Flights for travel up until 30 September can be changed without fees if needed.”

Virgin Australia Group medical officer Dr Sara Souter said the new measures will ensure that the airline appropriately manages the latest advice from government and remain vigilant when it comes to hygiene and personal protection.

“We will be adopting contactless check-in, a new sequenced boarding and disembarkation process and guests will see more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces on the aircraft and within the airport,” she said.

“In addition, a new health questionnaire will be rolled out as part of the check-in process to ensure passengers are fit to fly and to assist with contact tracing.

“It’s important to remember that the inflight environment is very different to that of other modes of group transport, with a range of protective features including hospital-grade air filtration systems, directional airflow and high seat backs between travellers.

“The international evidence supports very low-risk of COVID-19 transmission inflight, which is also our experience to date in Australia.

Souter said Virgin is also asking guests to be mindful of their own personal protection and others when moving around the cabin.

“Team members and guests are being encouraged to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching their face, and hand sanitiser and masks will be available to all guests on request,” she said.

“Wherever possible, we will try to do our best to keep an empty seat between guests travelling alone; however, this may not always be available. Families and travelling companions will be able to sit together.”

Featured image: iStock/robb1037