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Virgin Atlantic plans to make 1,150 staff redundant on top of 3,000 previously announced

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This week, Virgin Atlantic’s recapitalisation plan successfully made its way through both the UK and US courts.

This has saved the airline from imminent insolvency but it still faces challenges ahead. Crucially, with 70% of Virgin’s routes to the US, it does not expect to fly more than 25% of its 2019 capacity in the final months of this year.

This is – clearly – a problem, given that the UK furlough scheme is about to wind down. It will leave the airline with more staff than it needs to operate the handful of flights it is currently planning.

Virgin Atlantic making 1,150 staff redundant

With this in mind, Virgin Atlantic is planning to cut 1,150 jobs across the entire business with a 45-day consultation period starting today. This is in addition to the 3,000 redundancies announced in May when it decided to pull out of Gatwick.

That would suggest Virgin Atlantic is hoping to shrink its staff by just under 50% from 2019 levels.

Virgin Atlantic is also introducing a voluntary, ‘company-led and financed’ furlough scheme for an additional 600 crew when the Government scheme ends. Presumably this means it expects to pay selected crew 80% of their normal salary, which would offer savings of 20% in the short term.

(EDIT: Unite is suggesting that the sum is nearer 50% and that the furlough would last between two and seven months. Due to the way that airline salaries include multiple ‘allowances’ based on flight hours and nights away it is never fully clear what such claims are based on.)

Shai Weiss, the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said:

“Now we must focus our efforts on securing our long-term future, by ensuring that Virgin Atlantic not only survives but thrives as passenger demand returns. It’s clear that the introduction of passenger testing is the only way to enable the removal of travel restrictions and open up flying to key markets, while protecting public health. We will continue to work with our industry partners to press for urgent government action.”

Cutting capacity so severely is not what the airline was hoping to achieve this year as it moved towards growing its network. It may just ensure the airline’s long term survival, however.

Comments (27)

  • marcw says:

    It looks like their is only one likely outcome for Virgin. Sad news. All the best luck for current employees.

  • Paul says:

    National Disgrace! Time to take their LHR slots 🙄#Logic

  • JP-MCO says:

    Fail to refund customers in a timely manner at your own peril. Even with the recapitalisation plan VS is on borrowed time. The traveller who waited 6 months for a refund from Virgin Atlantic or Holidays won’t quickly forget and that’s why their reputation will likely never recover.
    Nobody would argue that COVID wasn’t unprecedented for the airline industry but intentionally delaying refunds to prop up the company’s finances was the wrong solution.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Better than going bust and that customer getting 10p on the £?

      • JP-MCO says:

        Better than going to their bankers or billionaire owner?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Why would bankers give more money to an insolvent business to just hand out in refunds ?

          Branson is very wealthy but I very much doubt he has the level of cash required, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone begging to vultures.

  • Spaghetti Town says:

    Understandably and sadly, it is cheaper to keep them on job seekers allowance than to pay furlough.

  • Paul says:

    “Presumably this means it expects to pay selected crew 80% of their normal salary, which would offer savings of 20% in the short term.”

    Unite are saying its 50%

    • ken says:

      Presymably 80% doesn’t include the various allowances.

      Not sure what else Virgin can do.
      50% better than nothing and although decent permanent jobs and inundated with applicants at the moment, there is always some zero hour work everywhere (eg Uber Eats, care work etc) to top your money up.

      Was slightly astonished the other day to find out a mate pays £15 x 3 times a week for someone to walk his dog (hour and a half each time).

      • Polly says:

        Dog walking a fast growing business out our way. Maybe not so now, as more people WFH. But def was lucrative. Regularly saw people out with 5 or 6 dogs.

    • Lady London says:

      In these times I’d take 50% as I know I could be far worse off.

      • Polly says:

        50% def better than UC or JSA. However with UC, they do get an element of housing allowance paid, so might be better off…sad for all concerned.

  • Hugh Jardon says:

    What a shame, I really like Virgin and its wonderful crew members, lets hope they survive and provide the current limp BA offering some much needed stiff competition.

    • J says:

      Completely agree. Consistently good flights with VS and their crew. Wish them the best.

  • Lady London says:

    Sadly though Rob that has always looked likely to be needed.

    I am sad to see such industrial value being destroyed in airlines.

    Respect to Virgin for keeping on trying. They must be a great airline to work for.

    • Polly says:

      They really are trying everything to hang on in there. Let’s hope they succeed. Such a shame. BA needs the competition.

  • David S says:

    If only they flew somewhere attractive to use my Miles. The current route network is scraping the barrel. Virgin have flown to loads of exciting places in the past such as Vancouver and Mauritius but they cannibalise routes so fast it doesn’t give you much confidence to book with them. Thank god for their partners

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