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SIGNATURE PAULA MAREE



THE VIRGIN VISION

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Today I am celebrating 6 months at Virgin Australia and what an adventure it has been. Virgin Australia 2.0 has relaunched and although coronavirus continues to create challenges, the Virgin vision for the future of travel has never been more exciting!


Being back in the sky still seems like a dream come true.

In March 2020 my entire world fell apart after my final flight at Tigerair. So returning to the training centre to start a new Ground School seemed so surreal. At first, I was anxious about returning to the sky, but my nerves quickly settled when I was reunited with a group of former colleagues who were all feeling the same way.


Three weeks later the stress of exams was over and we were out online, meeting the crew who immediately welcomed us into the Virgin Family.

Virgin Australia has a unique culture and the first thing I noticed about the airline is how happy the staff are to share stories about their experiences over the past year. The airline sadly fell into administration during the start of the pandemic and it has been a stressful time for everyone.


The crew who remained had to say heartbreaking goodbyes to their friends and former co-workers, who had also been a part of the airline for many of its best years.

Yet, there was an underlying sense of optimism amongst those who held on for the ride. Shortly after completing redeployment training, I returned to the training centre to complete an upgrade course alongside the other new leaders. And from the minute I walked into the room I knew I was in the right place.


Virgin is such as dynamic global brand and I’ve always admired its founder, Sir Richard Branson, for his visionary leadership style.

I enjoyed reading his books back when I was studying business and marketing many years ago and I aspire to emulate his empowering leadership qualities now that I am a manager myself. I’ve absolutely loved getting to know the team at Virgin Australia and making new friends in the sky. The Virgin Australia crew who have been with the airline for the best part of the twenty-one years since its launch sure have some incredible stories to share!


However, one of the highlights has also been seeing my former colleagues return to the sky.

I had the best day working along side my first flight of all ex-Tigerair cabin crew and posted a photo to my Instagram account, expressing how grateful we all are to be back in the sky.

To my complete surprise, the legendary Sir Richard Branson himself left a comment welcoming us back to the Virgin Family.

(At first I assumed it was a fake account, but then noticed the blue verification tick and a quick Google search revealed that he does still personally interact via his social media accounts. So I must admit- I definitely had a little fan girl moment!)


It truly is exciting to be a part of Virgin Australia 2.0 as we relaunch.

When I first returned to the sky Australia’s domestic borders were open, people were flying and our planes were full! It was exciting to go to work each day, as there was an incredible buzz in the air. Unfortunately, though, several weeks later I had to quarantine for two weeks. I then went back to work for one day before Melbourne went into a snap lockdown. Our city reopened briefly and then most state borders closed to us when we went back into lockdown again shortly after.


Here in Melbourne we have endured the world’s longest lockdown and I’ve spent most of the past few months flying around empty planes.

Most of the crew have been partly stood down again. I’ve been confined to my hotel room for the very few layovers I’ve had whilst flying the AFL teams across the country. Outbound flights have otherwise been cancelled, aside from the limited departures for the very small number of guests leaving Melbourne, who are flying for essential reasons. And inbound flights have also been operating at a quarter capacity, with guests mostly being those who had been lucky enough to escape Victoria before the borders closed. But I feel so grateful to have played a role in reconnecting and relocating people during these challenging times and it has been rewarding just to have a reason to leave the house!


Last week I completed my six-month check, knowing I have landed exactly where I need to be.

The return of international travel is bringing our industry back to life and as the holiday season fast approaches, we are beginning to gear up for the busy months ahead. There is so much pent-up demand for travel, as Australian’s long to jet off on a long-awaited adventure outside of the confines of lockdown, border closures and quarantine. We are finally joining much of the rest of the world in learning to the live in the new normal and I can’t wait to be a part of the next era in Australian aviation!


I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities that the Virgin Group has given me over the years and as Virgin Australia expands, I know that there will be many more adventures to come. Watch this space – I can’t wait to keep sharing my travel stories as the future of travel takes off again! “YAY for Holidays!” Where will you fly to first?


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