Virgin Australia staff perform dance to Don't Stop Believin' to mark final international flight before grounding

Virgin Australia staff may not have much to be gleeful about right now, but they have marked the departure of the airline's last international flight before grounding services with a dance routine set to the Glee version of Don't Stop Believin'.

In airports and even on the tarmac, dozens of staff danced to the song originally released by the band Journey in 1981, but which regained popularity after featuring heavily in the first season of the musical TV show Glee in 2009.

Watch the video below:

The airline has slashed its domestic flights by 90 per cent and suspended all international flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 8000 workers will be stood down, 125 aircraft grounded and 1000 staff made redundant, including all pilots for the airline's budget subsidiary, Tigerair.

The airline has asked for a $1.4 billion loan from the federal government to help it survive the crisis.

Virgin Australia's final international flight was VA153 from Brisbane to Auckland, which took off on Sunday ahead of the official suspension of flights on Monday.

Qantas has also suspended its international operations. Its final flight, from Santiago, Chile, landed in Sydney on Sunday. The use of a Boeing 747 for the flight led to speculation the grounding will bring forward the retirement of the airline's five remaining jumbo jets.

The Don't Stop Believin' dance is the second time Virgin Australia staff have tried to cheer themselves up with music in the past week. Staff at Sydney Airport were filmed dancing to Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits on Saturday, while practicing social distancing by remaining at least 1.5 metres apart. Staff from Jetstar and Rex also joined in.

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It was the Nutbush video that inspired Virgin guest services agent and airport trainer Caitlyn Schuhmacher to do something similar to mark the last international flight. 

Supplied PR image for Traveller. Virgin Australia staff dance to mark the airline's final international flight before flights are suspended due to coronavirus.

Virgin guest services agent and airport trainer Caitlyn Schuhmacher.

"There was such a solemn mood I thought 'now is the perfect time to something like this'," she said. "We needed something positive to remember from the day." 

Schuhmacher got the rest of the team on board and worked out the dance routine with a colleague. A Virgin captain walking past during a rehearsal suggested they also perform it on the tarmac. The captain then filmed the staff dancing from the cockpit as the final flight pushed back. Brisbane Airport even allowed the Virgin team to put the song through the airport's public speakers. 

Like many other Virgin staff, Schuhmacher, who has been with the airline for two-and-half years, has now been stood down but plans to use her time to pursue studies in aviation management at Griffith University. 

"I'm a big aviation geek," she said, "so I don't know what I'm going to do not being around planes."

Last week, a video of a New Zealand based Virgin Australia cabin crew member went viral. Flight attendant Cassy Appleton choked back tears as she made her final onboard landing announcement to passengers and thanked them for their support.

See: Virgin flight attendant fights off tears during announcement on final flight

See also: Where are airlines putting all their grounded planes?

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