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Virgin Slashes Flights By 90 Percent, Thousands Of Workers Stood Down

Thousands of workers will be stood down for two months, as Virgin Australia cuts its domestic capacity by 90 percent.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, the airline said it would temporarily stand down 8,000 of its 10,000 workers.

While some staff will be able to access accrued leave entitlements, leave without pay wil be "inevitable" for some employees, the airline said.

"There has never been a travel environment in Australia as restricted as the one we see today," Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country's history," Scurrah said.

Up to 125 of its fleet will be grounded, Virgin announced on Wednesday.

Virgin Australia aircraft seen at Sydney International Airport, Sydney, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. International air passengers are being warned of potential disruption and delays when union members in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection strike for 24 hours. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

TigerAir Australia will also temporarily suspend operations, effective immediately.

Virgin Australia said the remaining 10 per cent of its capacity would be reserved for the transportation of essential services, including freight and logistics.

The news comes after the airline announced it would reduce its domestic fleet by 50 per cent and temporarily suspend all international flights due to the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

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"We plan to return TigerAir Australia and Virgin Australia to the skies as soon as it's viable to do so, however, I am mindful that how we operate today may look different when we get to the other side of this crisis," Scurrah said.

"I am only too aware of how people are hurting at the moment and these very tough decisions have weighed heavily on me and my leadership team."

The Transport Workers' Union has appealed to the government to pay up to 80% of workers’ wages.

“Virgin, another significant employer in Australia, is standing workers down and forcing them to shoulder the burden by taking their leave," said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine in a statement to 10 daily on Wednesday.

"The Government is standing by while workers are taking the hit instead of guaranteeing part of their wages and ensuring that when the crisis abates they will not be drastically worse off,” Kaine said.

Do you have a story tip? Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au