| 23.03,20. 12:44 PM |
Virgin waives fees for Australians returning home as Rex flights are confined to Queensland
A Boeing 737-800 is seen at the Virgin Australia Airlines terminal at Adelaide Airport in Adelaide. (AAP)
Virgin Australia is waiving change fees and fare differences to help Australians return home before state and territory travel restrictions come into place tomorrow.
Guests who are booked on a Virgin Australia or Tigerair flight scheduled to depart on or before this Friday will now be able to go to a check-in counter and be moved to an earlier flight to get them home in time.
Guests can also rebook their flight via the airline's Guest Contact Centre for Virgin Australia on 13 67 89 or Tigerair 1300 174 266.
The airline also assured Tigerair customers that if they are re-seated on a Virgin flight, they will not have to pay the difference of the more expensive airfare.
"We want guests to know that during these uncertain times, we're committed to getting them home," a Virgin Australia Group spokesperson told 9News.com.au.
"Whether they're overseas or interstate, we're waiving change fees and fare differences to get them safely home before travel and border restrictions come into effect."
The move comes as Virgin Australia said it expects its domestic schedule to suffer a material impact as a result of new federal and state government travel restrictions at the weekend.
The beleaguered airline will provide more information in the coming days.
Virgin has already reduced domestic capacity across Virgin and Tigerair brands by 50 per cent and ceased its international operations in response to tightening quarantine measures.
Ratings agency Moody's on Friday also downgraded Virgin's credit rating to B3 from B2 and placed it on review for further downgrade.
Regional carrier Rex Airlines has said it will only operate flights within Queensland as that is where its services are underwritten by the government.
Rex's Deputy Chairman, the Hon. John Sharp AM, said the airline supports travel restrictions but there will come a time when the business will be forced into bankruptcy.
"Rex is supportive of the strong measures taken by the Federal and State Governments such as the shutting of State borders and imposing a lockdown within the States as well as discouraging all non-essential travel," Mr Sharp said.
"These measures will definitely reduce the number of infections from COVID-19, prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed and save many lives.
"However, tragically for the airline industry, this means that we can expect the year-on-year reduction of passenger numbers to nosedive to around 80 per cent from the 60 per cent we are experiencing today.
"There is a tipping point in the airline business beyond which it will no longer be sustainable to operate reduced services."