Air New Zealand touted as a replacement if Virgin Australia goes under

Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah.

Virgin Australia has sought a “a statement of confidence from government” as it warned the country needs to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with two airlines.

The beleaguered airline is looking to raise $1.4 billion and is calling on the federal government to back its future. Under the rescue plan, the government would take an ownership stake in Virgin if the airline was unable to repay its debt within three years.

“We are not looking for a bailout,” chief executive Paul Scurrah told The Australian.

“We are looking for a hand-up, for assistance to bridge through the crisis. Confidence is a very important thing for airlines.

“We are asking the government for a bridging facility and working with them to make sure there is confidence that people can look forward with certainty that there will be a competitive and robust airline industry coming out of the crisis.”

Virgin Australia has stood down the majority of its 9500 staff, saying their future was dependent on the government’s support.

“The federal government wants to emerge from this crisis with two airlines,” said Scurrah.

“And without us, it is not going to have one. We all know what would happen if there was a monopoly.”

But analysts say other airlines could step in if Virgin Australia goes under.

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, IBISWorld aviation analyst Tom Youl said Air New Zealand would be a good replacement.

“They’re struggling at the moment like all airlines so the Australian government would have to entice them with money, but it could be that or start a new airline,” he said.

The New Zealand government previously said up to NZ$900 million ($890 million) could be loaned to the airline over the next two years as a result of the global pandemic.