Sky News reported this afternoon that Virgin Atlantic has appointed restructuring specialists Alvarez & Marsal to oversee a potential pre-pack insolvency of the airline.
This does not necessarily mean that administration is inevitable, and as Sky points out it is a legal requirement of the directors to prepare for such an eventually if it looks like it may be necessary.
Because of the way that pre-pack administrations work, this would NOT mean the end of the airline.
Under a pre-pack, the airline would declare itself bankrupt and would be immediately sold to a pre-arranged buyer. This buyer is highly likely to be Sir Richard Branson, potentially with new partners.
The new shareholders would acquire the assets of the existing business but not its liabilities. The airline would therefore emerge debt free. The process would also allow it to shed leases on aircraft which were no longer required.
One issue, however, would be the potential loss of its Heathrow Airport landing and take-off slots. Many people have forgotten that many of Virgin’s slots are secured against a £220 million loan and would be forfeit if that loan was not repaid.
It is possible that any announcement this weekend to force visitors to the UK into 14 days quarantine, including returning UK citizens, could be a trigger for administration.
Changes to UK insolvency proceedings as part of the response to coronavirus allow the airline to continue trading whilst going through a restructuring without the directors being personal liable for the debt. This increases the chances that the airline would be able to emerge intact in some form.
Virgin Flying Club should emerge unscathed, especially as your miles are legally owned by Virgin Red / Virgin Group Loyalty Company. Virgin Atlantic is not a shareholder in this business, which is owned jointly by Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines. However, in reality your miles will have little value if the cannot be redeemed for flights as it is unlikely that Virgin Red has enough funding to pay for redemptions with third parties.
The full Sky News article is here. Mark Kleinman, the author, has had a decent track record recently of accurate scoops covering the problems at Flybe and Virgin Atlantic.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles. That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)