Virgin Australia has cut its Boeing 737 MAX orders by about half but remains focused on narrowbody operations, signaling that a return to widebody flying is still on the agenda but remains a long-term prospect.
Virgin Australia confirmed plans to keep 56 of its Boeing 737s when it exits the administration process, which means it will cut almost 30 aircraft from its narrowbody fleet compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
The selection of Bain Capital as the successful bidder for Virgin Australia means the airline will survive in a smaller form and will broadly follow the strategic blueprint developed by the current management team.
The contest to select a new owner for Virgin Australia has entered the final stages, with the two remaining bidders presenting proposals that call for retaining the core parts of the airline’s operations.
Etihad Airways, which owns 21% of Virgin Australia, has said it was unable to provide further funding to prevent the airline’s entry into administration but remains open to discussions on a possible relaunch.
Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson is saying Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia will need government support if they are to survive the COVID-19 crisis and keep competition alive in markets that would otherwise become effective monopolies.