Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int'l) bidder Cyrus Capital Partners won the support on June 18 of both the Flight Attendants Association of Australia and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association, three days after it said it wanted to make the airline a mid-market “hybrid” and scrap its low-cost wing Tigerair Australia (TT, Melbourne Tullamarine).

Any deal will need employee support to be successful at a meeting of creditors in mid-August when a vote to sell or liquidate the airline will take place.

Virgin entered voluntary administration on April 21 owing AUD6.8 billion Australian dollars (USD4.6 billion) to more than 10,000 creditors, and its staff are the biggest creditor group - 9,020 of them, who are owed AUD451 million (USD309 million).

By value, the most significant groups are lessors, which are owed AUD2.3 billion (USD1.58 billion), and unsecured bondholders, owed AUD2 billion (USD1.37 billion).

In the words of Teri O’Toole, secretary of the flight attendants association, “Cyrus are not dipping their toes in aviation, they actually know what they’re doing, and they’re taking this on with eyes open. They’ve got the airline experience, and they really understand the Virgin culture and the brand value.”

Cyrus Capital adviser and former Virgin America CEO Jonathan Peachey told The Australian Financial Review on June 15 that Virgin Australia had become “a little too complex over the years. We intend to simplify. That doesn’t necessarily mean shrink dramatically, but it means to have more focus around what needs to get done from a network and a fleet standpoint.”

According to Peachey, Cyrus hopes to reposition the carrier to “sit below that very top tier of where Qantas plays so strongly in, and above and maybe overlapping slightly where Jetstar Airways sits.”

Bain Captial, the other shortlisted bidder, has said it hopes to take the airline closer to its low-cost Virgin Blue Airlines origins.

“We don’t intend to take it back to the Virgin Blue days, the pure low-cost carrier of the past,” Peachey elaborated. “The brand has evolved, the business has evolved, and the market has evolved as well. We don’t think the market needs that, with Jetstar’s presence.”