Virgin Atlantic (VS) has recently announced a series of actions that will be taken by it to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and to make it ready for the post-pandemic environment. In a press release, the airline states that the pandemic is one of many storms weathered by the airline, but is the most devastating one yet.
Virgin Atlantic had a fleet of seven Boeing 747s. Photo by Karam Sodhi | AeroNewsX.
Virgin Atlantic on May 5th, 2020 announced a number job cuts. This included 3150 personnel, which is almost one-third of its entire workforce and is in talks with trade unions about the same. A company-wide consultation period begins today. Before these job cuts, Virgin employed around 10,000 workers.
Along with the job cuts, the airline has announced the immediate retirement of its Boeing 747-400 fleet. The airline will, effective today, withdraw the seven quad-engine jets it has in its fleet, which means the airline will only operate twin-engine jets which significantly reduces their average fleet age and carbon emissions. VS also plans to retire four of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft in early 2022 which will further help to reduce the airline’s carbon footprint.
Another landmark decision from the airline is that it will be moving all of its operations from London’s Gatwick Airport to London Heathrow, however it intends to retain its slot portfolio at Gatwick to return as demand picks up. Thus, as a consequence of this, Virgin will only operate from London Heathrow and Manchester.
Virgin Atlantic also operates the Airbus A350-1000. Photo by Ervin Eslami | AeroNewsX
In other news, Virgin Atlantic will be re-branding Virgin Holidays to Virgin Atlantic Holidays in an attempt to create one powerful company to further help weather the coronavirus crisis. Virgin Atlantic Holidays will continue its partnership with Next but will close 15% of its real estate in 2020.
Just like other airlines VS has also asked for urgent state aid, without which they claim, the airline will cease to exist. However, unlike most carriers, the Virgin brand has received some opposition with regards to government funding most notably from Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary. Mr. O’Leary says that Sir Richard Branson should fund the Virgin group himself rather than spending the taxpayer's money.