Virgin Atlantic is taking action to meet the financial impact of the coronavirus by cutting executive pay, postponing annual wage rises, freezing recruitment and restricting staff travel.

The measures announced by Virgin Atlantic include postponing the launch of a new Heathrow service to Sao Paulo due to commence on March 29.

This will now be deferred to the winter, with services beginning on October 5.

MoreVirgin Atlantic relaxes flight change fees due to coronavirus

Virgin Atlantic had already suspended its Heathrow-Shanghai flights until April 19 and reduced the frequency of services to Hong Kong.

In a statement, the airline confirmed: “Virgin Atlantic is feeling the impact of Covid-19 and seeing a fall in customer demand for travel.

“We are taking appropriate measures and focusing efforts on ensuring the airline is in a robust position to weather the storm.”

It added: “We continue to review our flying programme and additional changes will be made as the situation evolves.”

Chief executive Shai Weiss will take a 20% pay cut for the four months from April to July and the executive leadership a 15% cut.

Virgin is imposing a company-wide recruitment freeze, a restriction on all non-essential staff travel and training and proposes deferring annual pay increases from March to August 2020 “when we will reassess affordability”.

It will also offer ground-based staff the option of taking one-two weeks unpaid leave up to the end of July.

Virgin Atlantic also announced today it is waiving fees for changes to flight dates on tickets issued in March for travel up to and including September 30.

The carrier said: “These sensible steps will ensure we are in a stronger position once the impact of Covid-19 stabilises, with a recovery expected in the second half of the year.”

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