COVID-19: Virgin Atlantic cuts 3,150 jobs, retires seven B747-400 aircraft


Posted by Sade Williams


As effect of the of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravages business globally, one of the world’s biggest airlines, Virgin Atlantic has announced a planned reduction of 3,150 jobs across all functions.


The airline said in a statement made available to journalists in Lagos by Promise Ukandu, Manager, Marketing and Communications – Nigeria, the airline also added that it will no longer use all of its seven 747-400s, with four A330-200 aircraft retiring in early 2022 as planned.


It added that 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 said it has taken decisive action to reduce costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible, adding that it continues to explore all available options to obtain additional external funding.


“Constructive discussions with several stakeholders, including HM Government, are ongoing, while the Company continues to benefit from shareholder support. However, to safeguard the future of the airline so it can emerge from this crisis a sustainably profitable business, further action is required.


“Even in the toughest times, the people of Virgin Atlantic are what sets it apart and decisions taken have been aimed at preserving as many jobs as possible. In order 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. Working closely with unions BALPA and Unite, a company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins today”, the statement said.


Speaking on the development, Shai Weiss, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Atlantic said: “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.


“After 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis, we took similar painful measures but fortunately many members of our team were back flying with us within a couple of years. Depending on how long the pandemic lasts and the period of time our planes are grounded for, hopefully the same will happen this time.


“Our vision for Virgin Atlantic remains the same – to become the most loved travel company, for our people and our customers. Once the crisis stabilises, Virgin Atlantic has an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s economic recovery, providing essential connectivity and competition:, he said.

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