Virgin Australia is expected to enter voluntary administration after the airline's board held an emergency meeting of its international shareholders to find a way through the coronavirus downturn.
Calls for a bailout from the federal government and attempts to restructure the company's finances appear to have failed, a month after travel restrictions announced by the government slashed airline revenue.
After requesting a trading halt on Tuesday, Virgin requested a suspension in trade on the ASX on Thursday for seven days or until an announcement was made to allow the company to consider financial assistance and restructuring alternatives.
An airline spokesman wouldn't comment on Monday evening about the reports the airline was set to go into administration.
Accounting firm Deloitte had already been called in to examine restructuring options, but wouldn't confirm on Monday night if it had been appointed administrator.
Virgin is carrying about $5 billion in debt and its domestic and international business has been hit due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Virgin suspended all international flights in March, and all domestic flights except for a single Melbourne to Sydney flight each day on April 10.
Most of the airline's 10,000 staff had already been stood down when flights were suspended, but the company said it wasn't eligible for the government's wage subsidy scheme.
Support for the embattled airline has been a source of tension for the Morrison government in recent weeks.
The carrier had been seeking federal help to keep running but the government rejected its request for $1.4 billion, despite claims airfares could spike if Qantas was left to dominate the domestic market.
Last week, just a day after Canberra Airport went into a two-day hiatus due to the lack of any commercial flights, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced the government would underwrite some key domestic routes, while stopping short of offering to buy equity in the airline or provide it a loan.
"I want to see a two airline solution, I want to see both airlines come through COVID-19," Mr McCormack said in Canberra.
At the weekend Mr McCormack praised the Queensland government's $200 million commitment to help Virgin, while insisting the government was doing all it could to help.
"Sustaining Australia's aviation industry is critical to protecting livelihoods and saving lives and the federal government is exploring all possible avenues to keep two airlines in the air, throughout this pandemic and on the other side of it," Mr McCormack said on Saturday.
As recently as Monday morning the Queensland and NSW governments were jostling for the carrier to call either state home, with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk telling NSW to "back off".
The Queensland government had offered a $200 million rescue package to Virgin - with more potentially on the table - but only if the businesses continued to be headquartered in Brisbane.
However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said they could try to lure the carrier and its subsidiary Tiger Airways to Sydney.
"We're thinking about what we can do to keep as many jobs going now, but also how we can actually start recovering the economy during this time as well," she told reporters on Monday.
Virgin Australia entered the Australian market in 2000 as Virgin Blue with plenty of fanfare thanks to the celebrity power of the airline's then majority owner, UK billionaire Richard Branson. It initially operated just two aircraft between Brisbane and Sydney.
The collapse of Ansett Australia in September 2001 allowed the airline to step up into the role as the nation's second domestic airline. It expanded into operating some international routes before two rebrandings and a reorganisations in 2011 saw it establish itself as Virgin Australia.
Longtime chief executive John Borghetti departed the airline in 2018 and his replacement Paul Scurrah took the helm early last year.
On March 18, Mr Scurrah announced the grounding of 53 planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of all international routes.
- with AAP
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