Virgin Australia COVID-19 vaccine incentives: Giveaway of business class flights, millions of Velocity points

Virgin Australia has followed Qantas in announcing its own incentive program for Australians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The airline on Wednesday morning announced a giveaway of millions of Velocity Frequent Flyer points, as well as business class flights, for Australian residents who get vaccinated.

However, the Virgin announcement said the competition would not open until all Australian adults are eligible for vaccination. At present, only Australians aged 40 and over are eligible for the vaccine, with the exception of those in front line roles or with conditions that make them vulnerable to the disease.

The airline said full details of the prizes would be revealed when the competition opens, but the biggest prize would be one million Velocity Frequent Flyer points. Passengers can register their interest on the airline's "VA-X and Win" web page.

According to Virgin, with one million points a passenger could fly around Australian seven times between each capital city. The points could also be used with one of the airline's international partners when borders reopen. Virgin's international routes are currently suspended, including to New Zealand.

A spokesperson for Virgin says the airline has a responsibility to use its voice to encourage Australians to get vaccinated.

"What the latest lockdown in Melbourne and the evolving situation in Sydney has taught us is the sooner we can all get vaccinated, the sooner we can get on with our lives, without the constant fear and uncertainty that come with lockdowns, restrictions and closed borders," the spokesperson said.

Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka told the Tourism and Transport Forum's Outlook 2021 Tourism Industry Conference on June 9 that the travel industry had an obligation to lead the way and get vaccinated.

"As an industry, if we don't role model great behaviour in getting vaccinated and demonstrating what it's going to take to come out of this to the other side, who will?" she said.

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In May, Ms Hrdlicka caused controversy after saying borders should reopen once enough people are vaccinated, even if that meant "some people may die".

The comments drew criticism from several quarters, including from the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and resulted in calls on social media for people to boycott the airline.

Virgin also announced a competition for its own staff to encourage them to get vaccinated, with prizes including additional annual leave, lounge memberships and free business class flights.

The airline conducted a survey that found 65 per cent of its frontline team members (cabin crew, pilots and airport workers) had been vaccinated or are registered to be vaccinated.

Qantas announced its own incentives for people to get vaccinated on May 31. Chief executive Alan Joyce said Qantas would provide discounts, flight vouchers and frequent flyer point bonuses to passengers who had been vaccinated. He also announced major prizes of free flights for a year with the airline.

See also: Business travel is not coming back, says Virgin boss

See also: No more free food for Virgin economy class passengers

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