‘There’s nowhere else to go’: Dad’s fear if Virgin collapses



A BRISBANE engineer fears he will be forced to shift careers or move his young family overseas if Virgin Australia collapses and thousands of staff are put out of work.

About 4000 Queensland jobs, including 1850 skilled workers, are at "real risk" of disappearing if Virgin Australia, one of the state's largest employers, collapses.

The airline, which was placed in a trading halt yesterday, is ramping up its campaign for a $1.4 billion loan from the Federal Government to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virgin Australia Fleet Engineer Tony Hill, 35, is one of hundreds of skilled workers who will fight to find a new job if the airline doesn't survive.

Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia


"There more or less is nowhere else to go," he said.

"The size of the industry compared to the number of people who would be out of a job is not comparable.

"There's almost nothing you can do about it because it's not a Virgin problem, it's an industry problem … you can't walk down the road and work at Qantas."

Virgin Australia Group CEO Paul Scurrah said decades of skills and experience would be lost if the airline's future becomes untenable.

He said 41 per cent of Virgin's 10,000-strong workforce included skilled workers, such as pilots, engineers, and operation controllers "who all contribute enormously to keeping the aviation industry in Australia running".

"Our request for government support is about securing the future of all team members, and ensuring the skilled workers remain in Australia," he said.

"The knock-on effect this has on the economy is significant.

"Future skills shortages, loss of technical experience and the inability to retain skilled Australian workers are all very real risks we're facing."

The majority of Australian aviation jobs are with Qantas, Virgin or the military.

Tony Hill with daughter Stella and wife Hannah in the Virgin Australia hangar at Brisbane Airport.
Tony Hill with daughter Stella and wife Hannah in the Virgin Australia hangar at Brisbane Airport.


With 90 per cent of the Virgin fleet grounded Mr Hill has been tasked with helping "put them to bed" and then preventing corrosion until the virus passes and they can fly.

Mr Hill moved from Melbourne to Brisbane with Qantas in 2014 and has worked in Virgin Technical Services for the past five years.

His aviation career launched with an aerospace engineering degree from RMIT in 2006.

"To get into a position I'm in now, requires ten years of experience," he said.

"If Virgin collapses … we would be leaving the industry and a very highly-skilled workforce would disappear.


Originally published as 'There's nowhere else to go': Father's fear if Virgin collapses