Virgin Atlantic cuts workforce by over 30% to stave off bankruptcy

Virgin Atlantic ©AirTeamImages

Having been unsuccessful in obtaining a government bailout beyond the standard furlough scheme for its employees, Virgin Atlantic has announced the loss of over 3,150 jobs, which equates to just over 30% of its workforce. The reduction will also mean that the carrier will be closing down all its operations from London Gatwick airport, putting that facility under even further financial pressure to survive.

A Gatwick spokesman said the airport remained “very optimistic about the long-term prospects of Gatwick airport and our resilience as a business.”. He added that Virgin Atlantic would retain its flight slots at the airport so could return when demand recovers. The airline flies mostly to holiday destinations, including St Lucia, Barbados, and Orlando, from Gatwick. The move by Virgin Atlantic comes hot on the heels of IAG’s announcement to cut 12,000 jobs at British Airways and 900 at Aer Lingus, Ryanair announcing the loss of 3,000 jobs and Rolls Royce’s aerospace sector planning up to 8,000 redundancies.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman made it clear the company did not anticipate passenger numbers will return to 2019 levels for at least three years. At its peak, Virgin Atlantic was responsible for 19% of transatlantic passenger numbers, operating 258 flights on a weekly basis, and 422 flights globally. The U.K.s Labour party is lobbying for a financial bailout for the airline industry and is urging the government to step in and help the ailing airline, despite its principal shareholder being a billionaire. The situation has not been helped by its shareholder, Delta Airlines’, having failed to provide any form of financial injection to date. On the other hand, climate change activists are keen for the government not to bail out airlines while they are still responsible for such massive carbon emissions.

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