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Covid-19 vaccination may be mandatory for all visitors to Australia - Executive Traveller
From 2021, overseas travellers might have to produce a vaccination certificate before boarding their flight to Australia.
Visitors to Australia may be required to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination, according to the government's new National Vaccination Policy. The first wave of the promising Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is expected to be available by the end of this year, with up to 1.3 billion doses issued in 2021. The Federal Government has secured 10 million doses, with Health Minister Greg Hunt earlier this week saying the program was "on track" for delivery in March 2021. Injections will be free to all Australians and Medicare-eligible visa holders, although they won't be mandatory. "While the Australian Government strongly supports immunisation and will run a strong campaign to encourage vaccination, it is not mandatory and individuals may choose not to vaccinate," the Australian Covid-19 Vaccination Policy states. "There may however, be circumstances where the Australian Government and other governments may introduce border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination." No mandatory Covid vaccination Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that mandatory Covid vaccination "is not the government's policy and has never been the government's policy,." "Of course, we would encourage people to take up the opportunity. But they will make their own choices and we'll be seeking to provide the necessary assurances about the safety of the vaccine." "There are no shortcuts here. There are no lower benchmarks that apply to this vaccine. It's a very important vaccine for the country and for everybody's health, but we will be applying the legal requirements that are there for people's protection." A vaccine under development at the University of Queensland, which unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech jab would be mass-produced locally, is expected to begin phase-three clinical before the end of this year. If successful, some 50 million doses would be freely available beginning as early as July 2021. The government has also earmarked 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and 40 million doses of a Novavax treatment. Rolling out Australia's free Covid shots The National Vaccination Policy will also set guidelines for how vaccines will be distributed, stored and administered at sites ranging from dedicated vaccination clinics to GPs and medical centres, pharmacies and workplaces. In the case of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which can't be manufactured in Australia due to its new approach of using 'messenger RNA' to instruct cells to build an immune response to the virus, Health Minister Hunt said a "national cold chain distribution program" had already been drawn up. This would store and distribute the vaccine at required -70°C temperature using what's been described as "very sophisticated eskies" packed with dry ice, which offer up to six weeks of storage without being connected to power. It's understood that the Covid-19 vaccines will typically require two jabs: a starter, followed several weeks later by a booster, and may also require an annual dose similar to a winter flu shot. The batting order Vaccines will first be issued to front-line healthcare and aged care workers and quarantine staff whose jobs put them at increased risk of exposure and transmission. Next on the list will be people with a heightened risk of contracting a severe case of Covid-19 due to their age or underlying health conditions. Injections will then roll out to what are described as "essential services workers": a group not yet fully defined but encompasses "key occupations" providing services "critical to societal functioning". With those three bases covered, any member of the public a group highly likely to include would-be overseas travellers could line up for a shot. "Our national goal is to ensure that all Australians who seek to be vaccinated are vaccinated by the end of 2021," Hunt said, adding that "we will not be out of this until we have a nation which has had a full vaccination program." Get ready to get flying again with our round-up of Australia's best Qantas Frequent Flyer credit cards, offering generous sign-up bonuses starting at a solid 150,000 points
Three 'Apple Silicon' MacBooks set for November 11 launch - Executive Traveller
Get ready for a new wave of Apple laptops with higher performance and longer battery life.
Apple will next week pull back the curtains on three new Mac laptops powered by the company's own ARM processors, a move which marks the breakup with longtime chip partner Intel. An online event dubbed "One more thing" a nod to founder Steve Job's famous end-of-keynote catchphrase in the early hours of Wednesday November 11 (EST) is expected to see three notebooks take centre stage. One will be a 13-inch MacBook Air aimed at the mainstream market; this will be flanked by more muscular 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. They'll all be running processors designed by Apple, using the same ARM platform as the company's iPad and iPhone devices, with reports pointing to a souped-up version of the latest iPad's A14 powerplant. The new machines will also have Apple-designed graphics and machine-learning processors. Apple's ARM play is expected to provide increased performance, extended battery life, improved software-hardware integration at the MacOS level and potentially even reduce the price, as Apple will control the supply chain rather than buying chips from Intel. Beyond the processor switch, the laptops are unlikely to see significant design changes. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Apple will unwind its 15-year relationship over the next two years until the company's entire line of laptops and desktops switches to ARM technology. This will give Apple more control over its own hardware, rather than being tied to Intel's development and release schedule, and allow a greater margin and more price flexibility by reducing unit costs. New Macs, new MacOS Early 2021 is expected to see the first iMac on Apple silicon and potentially a 14-inch MacBook Pro. Apple engineers are also currently developing a new ARM-powered Mac Pro, said to be similar to the current design but about half the size, due to the increased power efficiency of the ARM processors requiring less cooling. The launch of the new MacBooks will be accompanied by the debut of the latest MacOS 11 'Big Sur' operating system, which has been redesigned to look and work more like its iPhone and iPad counterparts including translucency, notification bubbles and widgets. The Messages and Maps apps will gain many of the features available in their mobile counterparts, and the Safari web browser will get a translation tool, changes to tabbed browsing and a customizable home page. Standardising on ARM across all three devices will make it easier for iPhone and iPad software developers to modify those apps to run on Mac, while cornerstone companies such as Adobe and Microsoft also plan to release ARM editions of their most popular programs, The new Macs will be able to run apps written for Intel chips through built-in Rosetta 2 'translation' software, albeit at slower speeds compared to native ARM apps. Intel has supplied its Core processors to Apple since 2006, when the company moved from the PowerPC platform, but Apple has become concerned with the relatively slow advance of Intel's architecture while continuing continuing to forge ahead on its tailor-made A-series processors. The partnership between Apple and Intel was formed in 2005, when Steve Jobs outlined a move away from PowerPC processors onstage at the same Apple event series for developers. Intel helped Apple catch up to Windows computers, some of which were more powerful at the time. In tandem, though, Apple was working on more energy-efficient chips for mobile devices based on ARM designs and continues to use those to power the iPhone and iPad. In recent years, the speed and power efficiency of Apples mobile chips have rapidly increased, while the pace of improvement to Intels parts has slowed. This irked Apple executives, who pushed the companys silicon unit to develop more powerful processors fit for the Mac, people familiar with the matter have said. Apple has less than 10% of the market for personal computers, so the direct impact on Intel sales may be limited. However, the change highlights a crisis engulfing the worlds largest chipmaker. It has delayed a new manufacturing process, giving rivals a chance to catch up. These problems are at least partly behind Apples decision to move to in-house chips, although the company has been steadily shifting to this approach for years. Could PC makers follow Apple's lead? Intel's bigger concern is that Apple could embolden other computer makers to make similar moves, he said. Now you have an actual PC that can run on something thats not Intel. Intel, the worlds largest chipmaker, has shrugged off attempts to unseat its dominance of personal computing for decades. Its only direct rival today is AMD, which has produced newer processors that have begun to take share over the last two years. But AMDs revenue is still less than 10% of that of Intel. Other efforts to break Intels lucrative grip on computer processors havent made much of a dent. Microsoft has a version of Windows that works with chips made by Qualcomm, and PC makers, including Microsoft itself, have made laptops based on that combination. Those products are praised for their battery life but havent grabbed significant market share. The Qualcomm processors are based on the ARM technology that Apple uses in its semiconductors. While Intels grip on the market is largely intact and its earnings continue to grow, analysts have seen signs of slippage. Most of that stems from persistent delays in introducing new production techniques. Once the leader in the crucial means of making processors faster and more efficient, Intel now trails Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the producer of all Apple-designed chips. Those slip-ups may have accelerated Apples departure from Intel, said Matt Ramsay, an analyst at Cowen & Co. Ramsay says Apple is a technology leader partly because of its control over both the software and hardware and its willingness to replace suppliers when it spots a vulnerability or an advantage elsewhere. Their reputation with suppliers is of being somewhat ruthless, said Ramsay. It looks like another consequence of Intels execution challenges. Additional reporting by Bloomberg
Bain's Virgin Australia 2.0 takes Luke Mangan off the menu - Executive Traveller
Business travellers bid farewell to some of the best inflight meals they've tasted...
Highly-regarded chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan expects to find himself off the menu at Virgin Australia 2.0, as new owners Bain Capital take the airline down a few notches into a value-oriented ‘mid-market’ proposition. Mangan says he is also owed in the vicinity of $400,000 by the airline, which collapsed into administration on April 21 with debts of almost $7 billion – although he’s resigned to getting little if any of that back. “We’ve been owed about $400,000 for some time now, before all this even happened,” Mangan tells Executive Traveller. “So I’m on a long list of creditors, and that’s the way it is – I’m one of those guys who doesn’t like to cry over spilt milk.” Approached for comment, a Bain Capital spokesman declined to offer comment beyond the firm's few published statements, having previously advised that it was "too early to discuss any details." Mangan developed the airline’s highly-regarded business class menu, with what he describes as “lighter, cleaner, fresher approach” to inflight dining – and was also in charge of the à la carte dining at the exclusive invitation-only The Club lounges. Bain is believed to be paring back the entire business class package towards a lower cost base, in keeping with its ‘value-based’ approach and a steer away from corporate travellers towards small-medium businesses. The same thinking is expected to result in the closure of The Club lounges, created with the sole purpose of competing against Qantas’ influential Chairman’s Lounge network to woo the top end of town, especially companies with large travel budgets which could be directed Virgin’s way. Read more: Secret perks of Virgin Australia's invitation-only The Club "We are not looking to take Qantas head on, especially in their corporate part of the market,” Bain Capital’s local managing director Mike Murphy has stated. “We are not looking to attack the very high end of corporate Australia” "In our research, access to The Club is important to a small elite segment of our customers and not the mainstream.” “Things like a fancy club and fancy meals and all of that are relevant to a very small portion of customers… but for the vast majority of customers, they just don't value that as much," Murphy has told The Financial Review. “We set all The Clubs up from day one with our Luke’s Kitchen brand,” Mangan says, although he maintains “it wasn’t fancy ‘fine dining’, just good simple casual food.” Be that as it may, The Club members will miss their freshly-cooked ‘eggs any way’ breakfasts, the grilled salmon, thick steaks and especially the truffle fries. “They were generous servings and the best food you could ever have in an airport” one The Club member, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Executive Traveller. Mangan was hired as the airline’s consulting chef by former CEO John Borghetti as part of the transformation of low-cost Virgin Blue into the upmarket Virgin Australia, and he believes that “for the last 10 years, we are doing great things.” “Obviously it wasn’t working, trying to take on Qantas – Qantas have got a good product and we couldn’t keep competing against that model.” “But John wanted to change things, which he did, and hats off to him for what he did.” Mangan was also involved in training Virgin’s business class cabin crew in food and wine appreciation, preparing meals and general service. “I certainly hope they keep that standard up and don’t let it slip,” he says. Also read: Here is what Bain Capital's Virgin Australia 2.0 will look like
Qantas seeks $15bn savings in dramatic post-Covid recovery plan - Executive Traveller
The three-year 'rightsize, restructure and recapitalise' plan will see most of Qantas' international fleet grounded to mid-2021.
Qantas will ground the bulk of its international fleet until the middle of 2021, seek to raise $1.9 billion in equity and reduce costs by $15 billion under a three year 'post-Covid recovery plan' announced this morning by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. The 'rightsize, restructure and recapitalise' plan will also continue the stand-down of 15,000 employees – around half of the airline's total workforce – with a further 6,000 jobs to be lost "across all parts of the business." Immediate fleet impacts will see the early retirement of all remaining Boeing 747s and, as previously reported, pushing back the delivery of new Boeing 787-9 jets for Qantas and Airbus A321neo aircraft for Jetstar. All Airbus A380s will be grounded “for at least three years”, Joyce revealed, with most international flights not expected to restart until mid-2021 and the Boeing 787 becoming the workhorse of that fleet. Qantas has also flagged a "domestic fleet optimisation", the specific shape of which has yet to be detailed. Three-year, three-pronged plan Joyce, whose tenure as CEO will be extended through to at least the middle of 2023 to implement the recovery plan, outlines the three-pronged plan as being to "to rightsize our workforce, fleet and capital spending for a world that has less flying for an extended period; restructuring to deliver ongoing savings across the Group’s operations in a changed market; and recapitalising through an equity raise that will strengthen our balance sheet and accelerate our recovery." Joyce said that despite the airline entering the pandemic in a strong financial position, "this crisis has still hit us very hard." "We’ve never experienced anything like this before. No one has. Right now, all airlines are in the middle of the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced. Airline revenues have collapsed. Entire fleets are grounded. And the world’s biggest carriers are taking extreme actions just to survive." "What makes this even harder is that right before this crisis hit, we were actively recruiting. We were gearing up for Project Sunrise. We were getting ready to buy planes. Now, we’re facing a sudden reversal of fortune that is no one’s fault – but is very hard to accept. Across the world, airlines are shrinking by up to 50 per cent." Slow path to recovery The airline says it expects domestic demand to fully recover in the 2021-2022 financial year, but international recovery is "anticipated to be slower with only ~50% of capacity expected in the same period." The expected opening of a trans-Tasman bubble to New Zealand later this year, with the prospects of a 'green lane' to Singapore to follow, will still leave Qantas without its flagship routes to the USA, London and other parts of Asia. As a result, while the majority of the international fleet is "expected to ultimately go back in to service", Qantas admits that "some leased aircraft may be returned as they fall due." Joyce said he doesn't expect the Qantas' international network to restart "in any real size from July next year", with those flights led by the smaller Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 jets "to establish the network as fast as possible." Over the next few years, the Boeing 787-9 will become Qantas' international workhorse "to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, London and Asia," he said. The job losses flowing on from this will include at least 220 pilots, "mostly due to early retirement of the 747s", and at least 1,050 cabin crew "due to early retirement of the 747s and less flying activity." A further 2,900 pilots and 6,900 cabin crew will be stood down from July 2020 onwards, the airline says, while some 3,000 jobs will be cut from 'non-operational' corporate areas and ground operations "due to less flying activity."
Virgin Australia bidder Cyrus to honour Velocity points - Executive Traveller
Cyrus Capital promises Velocity Points "will be protected and honoured" if it takes over Virgin Australia.
Cyrus Capital, one of the two bidders vying to take over Virgin Australia, says it will honour Velocity Frequent Flyer points held by the reward program's 10 million members if the New York-based investment firm is chosen to steer Virgin back into the skies. Cyrus senior adviser Jonathan Peachey, writing to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, noted that "rewarding customer loyalty is also important to Cyrus, especially at this time, and if Cyrus becomes the new owner of Virgin Australia, points held by members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program will be protected and honoured." Peachey also said that Cyrus would honour outstanding tickets booked and paid for by would-be Virgin Australia passengers “without hesitation”. Bain Capital has made a similar pledge to the AFTA regarding those tickets, and Executive Traveller has approached Bain for an assurance that it would also honour Velocity Points should it be the choice of administrator Deloitte. However, Bain is known to be eager to invest in Virgin's technology systems and bolster the analytics behind Velocity, making the loyalty program more closely integrate with the parent airline and potentially operating both through a single website and app. Deloitte is expected to make its decision by June 30, with Vaughan Strawbridge, who is leading the team behind Virgin Australia's sale, saying that "both bidders are committed to seeing a strong, competitive and sustainable Virgin Australia operating into the future, employing many thousands of Australians, and supporting the tourism industry and state and national economies." Virgin Australia is now allowing Velocity members to redeem their points on< flights across "popular domestic routes” for travel from September 1, 2020. That move marked the first stage of the program’s ‘unfreezing’, after a blanket four-week ban on members using points in any way, although many of those restrictions – such as buying gift cards and transferring points to the KrisFlyer program of partner Singapore Airlines – remain in effect. Read more: Virgin Australia's new owner to be chosen by next week
Virgin Australia's new owner to be chosen by next week - Executive Traveller
We'll soon know more about the new force behind Virgin Australia and the shape of the rebooted challenger.
With Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital having today locked in their multi-billion dollar bids to take over Virgin Australia, the countdown clock is now ticking on airline-appointed administrator Deloitte to crown the winner. Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge said in a statement that lodgement of the competing bids, both of which have already received approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, marked "another important milestone" in the sale process. “Both bidders are committed to seeing a strong, competitive and sustainable Virgin Australia operating into the future, employing many thousands of Australians, and supporting the tourism industry and state and national economies,” Strawbridge said. But despite both of the US-based investment giants being given an extension from June 12 to June 22 to lodge their "final, binding offer", the decision as to which firm finds itself behind the stick of the failed airline remains on track for next week. A Deloitte spokesman tells Executive Traveller that it's "still the plan to have a preferred bidder signing an implementation deed by 30 June." Virgin Australia slid into administration nine weeks ago, owing close to $7bn to a range of creditors ranging from lenders, aircraft leasing firms and suppliers to its own employees. The administration process is expected to see much of that debt wiped out, with Deloitte partner Vaughan Strawbridge, who is leading the team behind Virgin Australia's sale, previously saying “I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that all creditors will get their money back." This would however remove much of the ballast which has weighed the airline down throughout previous years, and could potentially see it turn a corner – and turn a profit – in two to three years. It's not just about the money When it comes to anointing the airline's new owner, the Deloitte spokesman told Executive Traveller that while "price will certainly be a very major factor, there may be other things proposed by a buyer that also deliver value to creditors." "Under the Corporations Act, the Administrators are bound to determine the best outcome for creditors (and) the Administrators will put their recommendation to creditors for their consideration." Regardless of if it's Bain or Cyrus which is handed the keys – and assuming the winner gets the nod of approval from Virgin's army of creditors at a meeting previously expected to be held in mid-August – the new Virgin Australia will be very different to the one which former Qantas executive John Borghetti launched in May 2011 and current CEO Paul Scurrah inherited in March 2019. The airline will be much smaller - with fewer aircraft and fewer routes – and focussed wholly on the domestic market, with the possible exception of New Zealand flights once the trans-Tasman 'bubble' opens up. Deloitte's Strawbridge confirmed that both bidders are looking to operate a smaller, single-branded domestic and short-range international airline, although "ultimately the size of the airline will be dependent on the timing and level of demand by customers as travel restrictions are eased." Repositioning Virgin 2.0 Bain and Cyrus have also made it clear they each see Virgin 2.0's best chance for success as a mid-market 'value-based' airline with a dash of that on-brand Virgin flair rather than go head to head with Qantas as a full-service airline for corporate travellers or enter a dogfight with Jetstar in the budget space. "We are not looking to take Qantas head on, especially in their corporate part of the market," Bain Capital's local managing director Mike Murphy has said. “We are not looking to attack the very high end of corporate Australia," adding that the outcome of Virgin's previous battle for the suited-and-booted business travel brigade" wasn’t a happy outcome for anybody." Likewise, Cyrus Capital lead Jonathan Peachey says that Virgin Australia 2.0 “should sit below that very top tier of where Qantas plays so strongly in, and above and maybe overlapping slightly where Jetstar sits. We think there's a really sweet spot in the middle where Virgin can play very strongly." Richard Branson is expected to join the winner's circle, with his Virgin Group having engaged with both Bain and Cyrus and said to be willing to put down several hundred million dollars in exchange for a continued 10% equity in the airline. The Queensland Government may also be asked to make good on its promise of financial support to keep it based Virgin Australia based in Brisbane. Also read: Could the new Virgin Australia be more like Virgin America?
Qantas Club and Business Class airport lounges to reopen from July - Executive Traveller
Qantas lounges will begin to swing open their doors next month, but a very different experience awaits.
Qantas will begin soaring back into Australian skies this month, but its airport lounges won't be opening until July – and even then, it'll be a slow process. A Qantas spokesman confirmed to Executive Traveller that domestic Qantas Club and Qantas Business lounges are expected to gradually open from July, as the airline ramps up to meet school holiday demand and towards 40% of its pre-pandemic flying capacity. Even then, unlocking those lounge doors – which swung shut in late March – will be a staggered affair based on how many eligible travellers are booking flights on Qantas and in some cases Jetstar, which in turn could hinge on states such as Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania unbolting their border lockdown. “We are gradually adding flights in June as demand levels increase (and) we can quickly ramp up flying in time for the July school holidays if border restrictions have eased more by then," says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. In cities with both a Qantas Club and a Qantas Business lounge, only one of those might open at first and roll out the welcome mat for all lounge-worthy passengers – although where the invitation-only Qantas Chairmans lounges fit into this remains to be seen. Visitors will notice many changes to the loungescape, beginning with more space between seating to comply with social distancing requirements and avoid passengers clustering too close together. The Qantas spokesman told Executive Traveller that furniture in the lounges will be moved around, along with "other temporary changes to facilitate physical distancing." However, this will also mean a reduction in actual lounge capacity and the need to place limits on the number of passengers allowed into a lounge – which could see some lounges declared 'full' even with relatively low numbers, and other lounge-eligible passengers turned away. Hand-sanitising stations will be placed near the entry and dotted around the lounge, while self-serve buffets will be replaced by pre-packaged meals and snacks. Those measures are all part of Qantas' broader FlyWell program which encompasses a range of health measures on the ground and in the air, including issuing passengers with face masks and sanitiser wipes, and adopting sequential boarding and disembarking – although middle seats won't be blocked from sale. Also read: What to expect when flying domestically during the coronavirus era
Virgin Australia unfreezes Velocity Frequent Flyer points - Executive Traveller
The program's four-week ban on members using their points is starting to lift, with domestic flights the first cab off the rank.
Velocity Frequent Flyer members can once again spend their hard-earned Velocity Points on Virgin Australia domestic flights, after a previous four-week ban. With these bookings back online, reward seats are now available on some of Virgin Australia’s “most popular domestic routes” for travel on and from September 1 2020 – in time for the school holiday break between terms 3 and 4. These include around 20 return routes between most Australian capital cities and several regional destinations in Queensland and Western Australia, although all reward flights to and from the Northern Territory and Tasmania remain unavailable for now. “We’re hopeful that domestic travel restrictions and State and Territory border lockdowns ease by September and for many of us, a local holiday and catching up with interstate family and friends will be well over-due,” a Velocity spokesperson tells Executive Traveller. “We look forward to sharing more offers with our members as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis and travel resumes more broadly,” the spokesperson added. The move marks the first stage of the program’s ‘unfreezing’, after a blanket four-week ban on members using points in any way, although many of those restrictions are still in effect. Read: Virgin Australia freezes Velocity Frequent Flyer points As domestic travel restrictions ease over time and flight schedules become more certain, Velocity Frequent Flyer will grow the list of domestic routes on which members can spend their points. "As more redemption destinations become available, we’ll let you know," Velocity confirms. Reward seats may also be unlocked on flights departing before September, if those same restrictions are lifted earlier than expected. "We’ll continue to review the timing for redemption bookings and let you know if we are able to resume these for travel prior to 1 September 2020," says Velocity. In any case, the number of Velocity Points needed to book a flight has not changed. One-way domestic reward flights begin at 7,800 Velocity Points in economy class and 15,500 Velocity Points in business class, plus taxes, fees and charges. These rates apply to short hops like Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane or the Gold Coast; Melbourne to Adelaide or Canberra; Brisbane to Mackay or Rockhampton, and more – all routes that are currently open for reward bookings. As before, longer flights such as between Melbourne and Brisbane, or from the east coast across to Perth, require more points. For a full list of available routes, visit the Velocity website. Free flight changes and cancellations on reward bookings Even though many Australian states and territories are outlining their plans to unwind various community and travel restrictions over the coming months, those plans rely on keeping the coronavirus under control, and may be delayed if issues arise. As such, Velocity Frequent Flyer confirms it will waive all change fees and cancellation fees on Virgin Australia reward bookings made before September 1 2020 for travel after that date, to provide increased flexibility. This includes changes and cancellations made voluntarily by the passenger, for any reason – even if borders are open and travel restrictions don’t present an issue – provided that change or cancellation is processed before September 1 2020. Where travel plans are cancelled before that date, either by the passenger or by Virgin Australia, the traveller will receive a full refund of the Velocity Points used towards the affected flight, without being charged a cancellation fee. A refund will also be given for the taxes, fees and charges paid for the ticket, except for any booking fees or credit card fees, which are normally non-refundable. Cancellations usually attract a fee of $35 or 4,500 Velocity Points per passenger per booking on domestic itineraries booked using points. Other uses for Velocity Points remain frozen For the time being, upgrades to business class on Virgin Australia flights are not available using Velocity Points, even for travel from September 2020, Velocity has confirmed to Executive Traveller. Reward bookings on Virgin Australia international flights and with partner airlines also remain suspended, as does the ability to convert Velocity Points into Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. These transfers were restricted in early April – weeks before the broader Velocity program was locked down – which Velocity expects to the case until "flight schedules return to normal". The ability to exchange Velocity Points for merchandise via the Velocity Store similarly remains blocked, but Executive Traveller understands that plans are in place to bring this back online soon. At the time of publishing, the ability to convert credit card points into Velocity Frequent Flyer points remained unavailable, but this may change as Velocity ramps up reward options for members. Read: Banks pull down the shutters on Virgin Australia Velocity