Virgin Atlantic: Airline to cut 1,150 more jobs as it completes £1.2bn bailout

Virgin Atlantic says its £1.2bn rescue deal has been completed but that another 1,150 jobs will be cut across all functions.

The news confirms a report by Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman on Thursday night and comes less than four months after the carrier axed 3,550 roles and ended its Gatwick Airport operations.

The latest cuts mean that Virgin Atlantic’s workforce has almost halved from its pre-pandemic level of about 10,000 people.

Chief executive Shai Weiss said: “After the sacrifices so many of our people have made, further reducing the number of people we employ is heart-breaking but essential for survival.

“I truly hope that, as demand returns, we will see many members of our team returning to us.”

Virgin Atlantic has been hit by the virtual paralysis in transatlantic travel since the spring, amid desperate pleas to ministers to introduce a comprehensive coronavirus testing regime inside UK airports.

On Thursday, Virgin Atlantic was among the airlines that wrote to the UK and US governments calling for a passenger testing trial for flights between New York and London, as a way to move closer towards resuming normal schedules.

In the early part of the coronavirus crisis, Virgin Atlantic issued a plea for state support earlier this year, with the airline’s boss Sir Richard Branson warning that it would be unlikely to survive without it.

The Treasury’s reluctance to step in led the company to pursue a private sector-only solution which was finally announced in July.

The completion of its rescue deal, which includes a £170m loan from the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management, provides Virgin Atlantic with sufficient financial breathing space to survive what could be the industry’s toughest year on record.

But in its announcement, Virgin Atlantic said the “devastating impact of COVID-19 on global aviation” had forced it to “take further steps to ensure survival”.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said the announcement was the latest bout of “tough news” from the aviation industry.

He added: “Our reps are meeting with Virgin next week and I am hopeful that we will find a way through to avoid any further pilot redundancies. Every single job lost to this crisis is a tragedy and we are doing everything we can to mitigate job losses across the board.

“Despite no help from government, their financing is now secure. I am confident that Virgin Atlantic will get through this coronavirus crisis and will emerge in a strong position.”

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