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Virgin Atlantic to Layoff Thousands In Order to Survive Coronavirus Demand Collapse

By Howard Smith - May 5, 2020 at 10:35AM

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The airline announces plans to reposition the company as it expects it will be three years before business returns to pre-crisis levels.

British airline Virgin Atlantic has announced actions to "reshape and resize" itself as it aims to continue to successfully operate in the post-pandemic world. The airline, which is 51% owned by Sir Richard Branson with the balance held by Delta Air Lines (DAL -0.97%), said it plans to cut 3,150 jobs across the business, among other plans, "in order for the airline to emerge from the crisis."

Virgin's announcement compares the current COVID-19 pandemic to other crises in its operating history, such as 9/11 and the Great Recession of a decade ago, saying it expects it could take up to three years for travelers to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Airplane taking off with sunset behind it

Image source: Getty Images.

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss commented, "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."

With the aim to return to profitability in 2021, Weiss said that now is the time for Virgin to cut costs and preserve cash while maintaining as many jobs as possible. The airline continues to have discussions seeking external funding, including with stakeholders and the British government. 

CEO Weiss expressed hope that lost jobs would eventually return. He commented, "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."

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