Virgin Atlantic could make more than 3,000 employees redundant as it battles to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The airline has announced plans to axe up to a third of its workforce as part of a restructure aiming to ensure the carrier is “fit for the future”.

Part of the plans will see the airline move its Gatwick programme to Heathrow and the Virgin Holidays brand replaced by Virgin Atlantic Holidays.

Virgin Atlantic said it had taken “decisive action” to reduce costs, preserve cash and protect as many jobs as possible.

MoreVirgin Atlantic financial assistance ruled out by Delta

Virgin Atlantic ‘told to re-submit’ £500m state aid bid

Richard Branson: Virgin Atlantic bailout ‘would not be free money’

The airline said in order for it to emerge from the crisis, it “must reduce the number of people employed” and as a result is planning to cut 3,150 jobs across all functions.

In a statement the airline said it was working closely with unions Balpa and Unite, with a company-wide consultation period starting today (May 5).

The airline will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from Heathrow and Manchester, with the intention of retaining slots at Gatwick for when demand eventually returns. It will no longer use all of its seven 747s, with four A330s retiring in early 2022 as planned.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of 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.”


Podcast: Which?’s Rory Boland and Abta’s Alistair Rowland