Virgin Atlantic has appealed to the British government for clear, decisive and unwavering support for the UK aviation sector amid the coronavirus crisis.
The airline has called on the UK for emergency credit facilities to a value of £5-7.5bn, to bolster confidence in the industry, and to prevent credit card processors from withholding customer payments.
It has also asked for slot alleviation for the full summer 2020 season, enabling airlines to match supply to demand – reducing costs and preventing unnecessary flying and corresponding CO2 emissions.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Virgin Atlantic has seen an accelerated and continual drop in demand for flights across the network, necessitating the need for decisive action.
The airline will reduce its schedule, prioritising core routes based on customer demand. This change amounts approximately to 80 per cent reduction in flights per day by 26 March.
As a direct consequence it will be parking approximately 75 per cent of the fleet by 26 March and at points in April will go up to 85 per cent. The airline’s flagship route London Heathrow – Newark route will be terminated with immediate effect.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson commented: “The aviation industry is facing unprecedented pressure. We are appealing to the government for clear, decisive and unwavering support.
“With this support, airlines including Virgin Atlantic, can weather this storm and emerge in a position to assist the nation’s economic recovery and provide the passenger and cargo connectivity that business and people across the country rely on.”
Virgin Atlantic is taking drastic action to safeguard future against Covid-19, including voluntary severance package to all employees and deferring annual pay increases until review in January 2021.
The situation is deteriorating at a significant pace. The airline has seen several days of negative bookings, driven by a huge volume of cancellations as customers choose to stay at home.