Virgin Atlantic cuts more than 3,000 jobs due to virus impact

LONDON: Virgin Atlantic It will cut more than 3,000 jobs, about a third of staff, as the coronavirus pandemic lands planes worldwide, British company partially owned by tycoon Richard Branson announced Tuesday.

It comes a week after British Airways announced plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs due to the COVID-19 consequences.

Since the virus decimated international air travel (Ryanair said on Friday it would cut 3,000 jobs), Virgin said it was required to make its own cuts to preserve its financial future, adding that it was in talks with the UK government about a possible support.

Virgin Atlantic said in a statement that for the airline to emerge from the crisis, regrettably it must reduce the number of people employed and today the company is announcing a planned reduction of 3,150 jobs across all functions.

Chief Executive Shai Weiss said it was crucial that the airline make a profit again in 2021.

After 9/11 and the global financial crisis, we took similar painful steps, but fortunately many members of our team flew back with us in a couple of years.

Depending on how long the pandemic lasts and the length of time our planes are on the ground, we expect the same thing to happen this time, he added.

Virgin said it would restructure the company's operations as a result of job losses, including the pause of flights in and out of London Gatwick airport.

Virgin said it would switch flights to London Heathrow Airport, with the intention of retaining its London Gatwick slot portfolio so that it can return in line with customer demand.

The announcements come around two weeks after Branson warned that Virgin Atlantic would collapse unless it received financial aid from the UK government to weather the coronavirus crisis.

Virgin is reportedly seeking £ 500 million ($ 612 million, € 564 million) in state aid.

British no-frills airline EasyJet recently took out a £ 600 million loan from the British government, which deals with airlines on a case-by-case basis rather than serving Virgin's demand for a state-funded, multi-billion pound boat for The Whole UK airline industry.

In a recent letter to staff, billionaire Branson referred to lots of comments about his wealth and a duty to prop up Virgin Atlantic and offer financial help to staff from his own pocket.

But he insisted that the figures released on his net worth were based on the value of Virgin's business before the coronavirus pandemic, rather than cash in a bank account ready to withdraw.

BALPA, a British union representing the pilots, was affected by Tuesday's devastating announcement that it would affect 426 pilots.

Our members and all staff in Virgin Atlantic will be shocked by the scale of this bombshell. We will be challenging Virgin very hard to justify this, said BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton.

The government should call a moratorium on job losses in aviation and lead a planned recovery, he added.