Virgin Atlantic Withdraws from Australia, Jobs Lost

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 5, 2014 3:53 PM EST

Effective May 5, 2014, Virgin Atlantic will no longer be servicing the Sydney-Hong Kong daily service routes as part of cost-cutting plans to keep the company afloat.

Although still unconfirmed, about half of the cabin crew based in Hong Kong would be laid off, according to the South China Morning Post. There are about 50 in Sydney.

"Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors such as increasing costs and a weakening Australian dollar have affected our profitability," Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said in a statement.

"These are still difficult times for the airline industry and as part of our strategy to operate more efficiently, we need to deploy our aircraft to routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable."

Luke Fisher, Virgin Atlantic's local general manager, was disappointed at the same time shocked of the announcement.

"It's fair to say it's been a bolt from the blue," Mr Fisher told Travel Today. "When the meeting was called quite a few were thinking we were going to be speaking about something else. I think people in my team were mostly shocked."

Virgin Atlantic, which first flew off Australia 10 years ago, advised passengers who booked to fly after May 5 to contact the airline or their agents.

"We'll discuss all options and will consider a full refund or rebooking passengers on another carrier."

The company's departure from its Australian routes now makes British Airways as the last major European airline still servicing and flying to Australia.

Virgin Atlantic began flying to Sydney in December 2004.

The company will continue flying between Hong Kong and London's Heathrow Airport.

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