‘One last time’: Virgin flight attendant’s emotional speech as thousands are stood down amid pandemic

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A flight attendant has brought people to tears amid the coronavirus outbreak grounding thousands of airline staff.

Cassy, who was on board a Virgin Australia flight in New Zealand, made a speech following her on board safety announcement to passengers on Tuesday.

Video of her on board address was shared by Virgin Australia on Twitter.

“Finally, I'd like to just say that there's every chance possible that this can be our last operating flight and most certainly is the last for the foreseeable future," Cassy says.

"As crew we've called the skies our home for so long it's a little surreal knowing we've come back down to earth one last time.

"On behalf of the entire Virgin Australia team, we wish you all the best during these testing times. Please take care of yourselves, your neighbours and stay safe."

She says she’s proud of her crew and how they continue to hold their heads high.

“Remember that tough times don't last, tough people do," she says.

On Twitter, people called Cassy’s message “inspiring”.

“Tremendously brave, well done,” one man tweeted.

Another called her message “heartbreaking”.

“Beautiful. That made me cry. I hope that when this is all over, we see you in the air again,” one woman tweeted.

Thousands of Virgin staff grounded

Cassy is among the thousands of Virgin Australia staff stood down in the wake of the coronavirus border restrictions. In total, 8000 of its 10000 staff have been let go until at least the end of May.

New Zealand has shut down its borders along with Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also introduced travel bans for Aussies looking to go overseas.

The airline on Wednesday said its domestic schedule would now be cut by 90 per cent, from last week's 50 per cent reduction and it would also suspend all flights of its low-cost Tigerair Australia service.  

Virgin said it would try and redeploy workers and encourage them to use leave, but leave without pay would be inevitable for many.

A passenger at Brisbane Domestic Airport on Wednesday. Source: AAP

Most domestic flights will be suspended from March 27 until June 14, while its previously announced international ban will be in place from March 30 to June 14.

The remaining domestic flights will provide essential services, such as carrying critical freight.

Virgin's move comes after most states imposed restrictions on people crossing their borders.

The rules aim to further limit movement and control the spread of the virus. People travelling for work and medical reasons will be allowed to cross borders.

"We are now facing what will be the biggest grounding of aircraft in this country's history," Virgin Australia chief executive Paul Scurrah said.

More than 125 planes in the Virgin fleet will be grounded from the end of this week.

The business is also discussing closing its New Zealand cabin crew and pilot base, and its Tigerair Australia Melbourne pilot base.

A strict travel ban has been put in place for Australians as of midnight Wednesday. Source: AAP

Virgin's announcement follows a decision by rival Qantas last week to stand down two-thirds of its 30,000 workforce as it slashed capacity.  

Qantas said on Wednesday it had secured $1.05 billion of funding against its aircraft fleet to help strengthen its financial position as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

with AAP and Reuters

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