With COVID-19 (coronavirus) paralysing the global airline industry, Virgin Australia has launched a campaign warning of the dangers of a local landscape in which only Qantas survives.
The ads by the airline – which is calling on the government for a $1.4bn bailout – urging regulators to “keep the air fair”, and warning “a monopoly in Australian skies will be good for no-one”.
A full-page ad ran in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph today. It reads:
A monopoly in Australian skies will be good for no one.
Not the 25 million people who fly with Virgin Australia, who have seen a 37% reduction in airfares over the 20 years we’ve been operating.
Not our 10,000 incredible people.
Not our 4,000 loyal partners.
Not the Australian economy, to which this airline adds 11 billion dollars a year. Or the 600,000 people who work in tourism.
Our biggest competitors need a challenger to keep them honest and innovative. A monopoly won’t even work for them.
It’s as clear as the blue sky.
A competitive airline industry is good for every one of us, and will be an essential part of economic recovery.
Let’s keep the air fair.
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.”
So far, the federal government has committed $715m to the airline industry, including waiving taxes and charges and offering assistance to regional operators.
Virgin Australia’s main rival, Qantas, has secured a $1.05bn in its latest round of debt funding, while Virgin itself wants $1.4bn from the government, according to reports.
Qantas’ CEO Alan Joyce has been arguing that as its revenue is much higher than its competitor, it should receive proportionately larger support. If Virgin Australia was to receive $1.4bn as a “bailout”, Qantas should receive a $4.2bn loan, Joyce said. He’s also hit out at the prospect of saving Virgin Australia from ruin, claiming “badly managed” businesses should not be offered help.
In turn, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah has accused Qantas of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.
Virgin Australia’s other promotional activity while grounded by the COVID-19 crisis has included calling off its traditional April Fools’ Day prank in favour of distributing masses of toilet paper to those in need.
“On a day when the world usually anticipates what April Fools’ tricks brands might play, we couldn’t be happier to not be punking anyone today and spreading some toilet paper goodness to those who need it most,” Virgin Australia general manager of product and customer, Sarah Adam said of the initiative last week.