All 220 Tigerair pilots will lose their jobs from Friday following the grounding of Tigerair’s entire fleet. Virgin management has also indicated that it will not entertain proposals to keep Tigerair pilots employed by utilising the Government’s recently announced wage subsidy.
The AFAP had earlier been advised of parent company Virgin’s intention to make all Tigerair pilot positions redundant by the end of April. This has now been brought forward to Friday 3 April.
“It is disappointing that while Virgin is trying to reassure the travelling public that it will maintain a low-cost carrier, it is laying off all of Tigerair’s pilots at the same time," according to AFAP Senior Industrial/Legal Officer James Lauchland.
This is part of a round of layoffs that will see more than 1000 Virgin employees lose their jobs permanently in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As recently as last Tuesday, Tigerair pilots were in discussions with the company about a stand down arrangement similar to their counterparts at other airlines, in order to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 situation,” said Mr Lauchland.
“Things then changed abruptly and instead pilots were told they would no longer be required at all.”
Virgin insists its low-cost subsidiary will continue to operate after the Covid-19 crisis passes, with plans to use a single workforce of pilots across both Virgin and Tigerair.
The AFAP understands that Virgin management wants all future domestic and short haul international flying, including Tigerair services, to be operated by Virgin pilots.
“Parent company Virgin has clearly taken advantage of an unprecedented crisis, being the downturn in the aviation industry resulting from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic”, said Mr Lauchland.
“This is very opportunistic. If it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented impact on the aviation industry, parent company Virgin would never have been able to propose such a drastic restructure of its workforce,” he added.
With more than 5000 members, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) is the largest professional association and industrial organisation for commercial pilots in Australia.
The AFAP represents 160 of the 220 pilots employed by Tigerair. The AFAP is also the largest representative of pilots within the Virgin Australia Group, with more than 900 members working across the Virgin Group’s international, domestic and regional operations.