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Virgin Australia cuts benefits with partner airlines, CEO resigns

Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program has released a program update which announces a range of cuts to benefits with partner airlines. In separate news, CEO Paul Scurrah is also set to leave the airline in early November.

Airline Partner Operated flights with a VA flight number

Velocity members will no longer earn Velocity Points, Status Credits or a Tier Bonus on codeshare flights operated by partner airlines (i.e. flights with a Virgin Australia (VA) flight number). Retrospective claims for missing points and status credits must be submitted by 14 April 2021.

Oddly, Velocity members will continue to earn points and status credits when travelling with these partner airlines under their own flight codes (eg. SQ with Singapore Airlines).

Velocity members will continue to earn Tier Bonus when travelling on Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines and Etihad Airways.

Partner Airline Lounge Access

Velocity Platinum and Gold members will no longer be able to access the Alitalia, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines lounges. Velocity Platinum and Gold members can continue to access all other eligible Velocity airline partner lounges.

Delta Air Lines

Velocity Platinum, Gold and Silver members are no longer eligible for Complimentary Upgrades to Delta Comfort+ and Velocity members will no longer be able to upgrade with points on Delta operated flights booked with a VA flight number.

Velocity Members will continue to receive frequent flyer benefits including earning and redeeming points when flying on Delta. Lounge access will also be available to eligible members.

Predictably, the airline says these changes are a “consequence of COVID-19 and some government-imposed international travel restrictions”, though the shake-up is also likely due to the airline restructuring under new owners. It’s not clear if these changes are temporary or if the benefits will be reinstated when international travel resumes.

CEO resigns

Virgin has also confirmed that CEO Paul Scurrah will step down in early November, to be replaced by former Jetstar boss Jayne Hrdlicka.

This comes after media reports of turmoil within Virgin’s executive ranks over tension with new owner Bain Capital about the low-cost direction it wants to take the airline.

In a statement today, the airline’s administrator has reaffirmed that “Virgin Australia will not be repositioned as a low-cost carrier. Virgin Australia will be a ‘hybrid’ airline, offering great value to customers by delivering a distinctive Virgin experience at competitive prices. This will appeal to the full spectrum of travellers, from premium corporate through to more budget-focused customers.”

We’ll see if this remains true when Bain Capital officially takes the reins next month.

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