'If Virgin was a coal mine you'd close it': Expert



VIRGIN Australia has entered into its second trading halt within a fortnight as pressure mounts on the Federal Government to throw the airline a financial lifeline and prevent its collapse.

Virgin Australia Group notified the ASX this morning its shares would enter a trading halt for two days, or pending a further announcement.

Pressure is mounting on the Morrison Government to answer Virgin's call for a $1.4 billion loan to ensure its survival amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Virgin Australia managing director Paul Scurrah spent the Easter weekend calling government ministers and opposition frontbenchers in a bid to secure support ahead of a cabinet meeting today that could decide the debt-heavy airline's future.

Planes from Australian airlines TigerAir and Virgin sit idle on the tarmac. (Photo by William West / AFP)

The Queensland company has previously warned of skyrocketing airfares if it collapses, leaving Qantas and its low-fare company Jetstar as the sole carriers.

Aviation industry commentator Neil Hansford offered an unsympathetic view of Virgin's plight, declaring the airline was badly managed for years.

"They've had a billion dollars in losses," he said.

"If it was a coal mine you'd close it."

Mr Hansford, the chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, said the only way Virgin Australia could survive was to refocus its operations on the leisure market and take on Jetstar, rather than Qantas.

Neil Hansford, Strategic Aviation Solutions
Neil Hansford, Strategic Aviation Solutions


He said Virgin should ditch TigerAir and return to the successful, low-fare operating model of Virgin Blue.

Mr Hansford, who doubts Virgin will receive financial support from its foreign shareholders, said the loss of the carrier would not create a Qantas-dominant aviation industry.

"If Virgin goes down the toilet Qantas can be lent on by the government to divest Jetstar, which could then have to float that company," he said.

"This (competitive) two airline thing is nonsense … it's driven by the Qantas and Alan Joyce haters."

Virgin shares last traded at 8.6c.

Originally published as 'If Virgin was a coal mine you'd close it': Expert