Virgin Atlantic to cut 3,000 jobs and close Gatwick Airport operations as coronavirus hits

Virgin Atlantic to cut 3,000 jobs and close Gatwick Airport operations as coronavirus hits

The major airline, owned by Sir Richard Branson, is to announce that it is cutting 3,000 jobs and is expected to close its operations at Gatwick Airport, Sky News reports. Virgin also plans to cut the size of its fleet from 43 aircrafts to 36 by the summer of 2022. The company is anticipating that customer demand will be at least 40 percent lower during 2020, with only a gradual recovery next year.

Trade unions and staff were being briefed on the redundancies by CEO Shai Weiss on Tuesday lunchtime, followed by an external statement.

The company said on its website: “Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to reshape and resize its business to ensure that is it fit for the future, in response to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, our nation and the travel and aviation industry…

“Uncertainty around when flying will resume, coupled with unprecedented market conditions brought on by the pandemic, has severely reduced revenues for the global aviation industry and Virgin Atlantic.

“Accordingly, the airline has taken decisive action to reduce costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible.”

Virgin said they plan to axe 3,150 jobs under the new plans.

The company currently has 10,000 UK staff and operates from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester Airports.

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic commented: “We have weathered many storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none has been as devastating as COVID-19 and the associated loss of life and livelihood for so many.

“However, to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021.

“This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.

“I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ. The commitment of our people throughout this crisis has been nothing but amazing, and the embodiment of true Virgin spirit.

“As we have navigated the Covid-19 crisis, I have been humbled at every step by their solidarity. In times of adversity we must support each other so that ultimately, we can emerge a stronger and better Virgin Atlantic.”

Mr Branson had previously pleaded with the Government for a £500million financial support, as the coronavirus pandemic grounded flights. 

The Government has so far been reluctant to commit taxpayers’ money to Virgin Atlantic, partly because of Sir Richard’s vast fortune.

Sir Richard made an impassioned defence of his group’s financial affairs last month, warning that the transatlantic airline was likely to collapse without any support.

The Chanellor Rishi Sunak has said state aid will only be made available to airlines “as a last resort”.

He added that help would only be afforded to companies which had demonstrated their value to the wider UK economy and to competition in the aviation sector.

Published at Tue, 05 May 2020 12:47:00 +0000