Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah argues border closures are unsustainable, as the country's reopening goes backwards

  • Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah says state and territory border closures are unsustainable, according to the Australian Financial Review.
  • There have been several border closures enforced between states and territories during the coronavirus pandemic, including the upcoming re-closure of the NSW and Queensland border.
  • “I don’t know how much longer we can sustain border closures,” Scurrah said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Virgin Australia is feeling the strain of the border closures.

There has been a whole gamut of border closures between states and territories during the coronavirus pandemic. Western Australia shut its borders save for exempt travellers, the NSW-Victoria border closed for the first time in a century and Queensland will be closing its borders once again to people from NSW and ACT from Saturday August 8.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Virgin Australia Group CEO and Managing Director Paul Scurrah described the border closures as unsustainable while calling on governments to create a plan for how the country will handle the coronavirus.

“What me and most business leaders want to see is how we deal with it when there’s no vaccine, how we deal with hotspots and outbreaks,” he said. “I don’t know how much longer we can sustain border closures; we have to get this under control.”

Scurrah also said Virgin is tossing up whether to make face masks mandatory on flights if health experts recommended it.

In July, the airline released a video outlining its COVID-safe measures, from passengers having to fill out a pre-flight health screening questionnaire to staggered boarding on planes.

Under the measures, complimentary hand sanitiser and face masks kits will be provided upon request, while people travelling to and from Victoria will be required to wear a face mask as per the state’s mandatory guidelines.

On Wednesday, Virgin announced its plans after being rescued from administration by Bain Capital.

Under the new plan, the airline expects to cut 3,000 jobs and will be ending its Tiger air operations. It will also use an all Boeing 737 mainline fleet, move its headquarters to Brisbane’s Southbank continue the suspension of long-haul international flights until the global travel market recovers.

“Demand for domestic and short-haul international travel is likely to take at least three years to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the real chance it could be longer, which means as a business we must make changes to ensure the Virgin Australia Group is successful in this new world,” Scurrah said in a statement on Wednesday.

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