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Virgin Australia flight attendant stood down during coronavirus pandemic finds new job in mines

Sarah-Rose Sharp (pictured) always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant

A Virgin Australia flight attendant who was stood down during the coronavirus crisis has traded her heels for hi-vis and started work for a mining company. 

Sarah-Rose Sharp always dreamed of becoming a flight attendant, and was devastated to learn she and 8,000 of her colleagues had been stood down during the pandemic.

Sharp said she let herself feel the heartbreak of losing her dream job, but immediately began hunting for new opportunities to keep herself occupied. 

Mining organisation BHP hasn’t suffered as significantly as other industries amid COVID-19 closures, and vowed to hire an additional 1,500 staff on six-month contracts.

Ms Sharp landed one of the coveted positions, tasked with screening fly-in-fly-out miners heading to the Pilbara region to ensure they don’t pose an infection risk.

‘My heart broke for my aviation family… I couldn’t imagine life below 40,000ft,’ Ms Sharp said of the mass exodus. ‘[But I’m] switching my heels for work boots.’ 

‘We went from high heels to high-vis in a day,’ she told WAToday. 

The avid traveller, who has worked for the airline for four years, understood why aviation employees would be the first picks for the role. 

The avid traveller, who has worked for the airline for four years, understood why aviation employees would be the first picks for the role

The avid traveller, who has worked for the airline for four years, understood why aviation employees would be the first picks for the role

Ms Sharp landed one of the coveted positions, tasked with screening fly-in-fly-out miners heading to the Pilbara region to ensure they don't pose an infection risk. Pictured above in her new uniform

Ms Sharp landed one of the coveted positions, tasked with screening fly-in-fly-out miners heading to the Pilbara region to ensure they don’t pose an infection risk. Pictured above in her new uniform 

‘I think they love that we all had customer service skills, we use our personal skills every day so for us to be able to jump in the front line and deal with large volumes of people it comes second nature to us,’ she said.

‘For BHP they looked for airport workers because they knew we could handle it.’

She said she was so grateful for the opportunity to still have a job during the pandemic, and considered her new role a fresh adventure.

In total, 45 trained flight attendants were hired to run the COVID-19 screening processes at airports for the organisation.

Nurses perform temperature checks while other staff ask miners questions about their health and travel history to determine whether they could be carrying the deadly respiratory virus before they’re allowed to travel for work. 

While Ms Sharp is keen to get back to her roots and fly again, some 16,000 jobs are currently hanging in the balance after Virgin Australia slipped into voluntary administration on April 21.

The travel industry was one of the hardest hit when the pandemic escalated, with borders being closed across the globe. 

Many airline shave struggled and a number have been tipped to collapse before the end of the year. 

Sharp said she let herself feel the heartbreak of losing her dream job, but immediately began hunting for new opportunities to keep herself occupied

Sharp said she let herself feel the heartbreak of losing her dream job, but immediately began hunting for new opportunities to keep herself occupied

Virgin Australia, which was already struggling with $5billion in debt before coronavrius grounded its planes, was the first in Australia to fold.

The airline asked for a $1.4billion government loan – but the Coalition government was unwilling to risk such as vast amount of taxpayers’ cash. 

HOW A FLIGHT ATTENDANT TRADED HER HEELS FOR Hi-VIS:

Sarah-Rose Sharp landed a job with mining company BHP after Virgin Australia folded.

She was flexible in her search for a new job, looking for work outside the travel industry.

She was able to easily transition to another industry as her skills were transferable.  

It was placed in administration last month with administrators at Deloitte tasked with finding a buyer. 

Deloitte will have a better sense of which parties are interested in buying the beleaguered airline, when non-binding indicative offers are made on Friday. 

The Queensland state government could emerge as a serious contender after submitting a plan to rescue Australia’s second carrier through either a direct equity stake, a loan, guarantee or another financial tool.

This has come even as the federal government has refused to bail out Virgin Australia, with Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack saying the solution must be market, not government, led.

The airline has debts of nearly $7 billion and its creditors are expected to be asked to accept a ‘haircut’, or payment of less than they are owed, to keep the airline operational.

Virgin Australia, which was already struggling with $5billion in debt before coronavrius grounded its planes, was the first in Australia to fold amid the crisis

Virgin Australia, which was already struggling with $5billion in debt before coronavrius grounded its planes, was the first in Australia to fold amid the crisis

Virgin Australia employees are seen at Sydney Airport, in Sydney, Tuesday, April 21 after the company announced it would go into administration

Virgin Australia employees are seen at Sydney Airport, in Sydney, Tuesday, April 21 after the company announced it would go into administration

It stood down 8,000 staff last month to try and stay afloat but went into freefall on the back of strict coronavirus travel bans.

The company is 90 per cent foreign owned with Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Chinese conglomerates HNA Group and Hanshan owning 80 per cent between them while Richard Branson’s Virgin Group still owns 10 per cent.

More than 15,000 jobs, many based in Queensland, are at risk should a decision be made to carve off assets to service the airline’s debts.

The administrators have stated their intention to agree a deal with a buyer by the end of June. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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