Jay Cronan

Virgin threatens to pull staff over airport regulation

VIRGIN Australia has reportedly threatened to pull its 1200 staff out of Brisbane in a stoush over access to regional airports.

CEO John Borghetti is understood to be frustrated by what he sees as lack of support for the airline, which relocated to Brisbane in 2000 with an $11 million leg-up from the Beattie government.

The Courier-Mail reports the threatened pullout comes as Virgin tries to tender for several regional routes including Roma, Longreach, Cloncurry and Charleville which are regulated routes. 

The paper also reported that Virgin was trying to tender for Bundaberg and Biloela routes, which are not regulated.

Qantaslink's contracts for the regulated routes are due to expire in March, and Virgin has been seeking to have the market deregulated to give it a chance to fly them.

But the airline has been told, unofficially, that the government's mind is made up, and Qantaslink's contract will be extended for another two years.

The Australian reported on Wednesday that Virgin was moving closer to relocating its headquarters to Sydney.

Virgin based its corporate head office in Brisbane in 2000 after securing a five year deal from the State Government.

The deal included paying reduced payroll tax, starting at just 20% in the first year before increasing to the full rate after five years.

Industry sources have told The Australian the company is unhappy with the amount of corporate business the Queensland government is directing its way.

Regulated routes in regional Queensland:

  • Brisbane-Roma-Charleville
  • Brisbane-Blackall/Barcaldine-Longreach
  • Cairns-Horn Island
  • Cairns-Weipa
  • Townsville-Cloncurry-Mt Isa
  • Cairns-Normanton-Mornington Island-Burketown-Doomadgee-Mount Isa
  • Brisbane-Toowoomba-St George-Cunnamulla-Thargomindah
  • Brisbane-Toowoomba-Charleville-Quilpie-Windorah-Birdsville-Bedourie-Boulia-Mt Isa
  • Townsville-Winton-Longreach
  • Townsville-Hughenden-Richmond-Julia Creek-Mt Isa

More to come