Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will shut down its operations at London Gatwick Airport and cut its UK workforce by up to 3,000 people as it fights to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline currently employs about 10,000 people, which means that almost a third of its workforce will be lost.
According to the BBC, Virgin Atlantic has said it will move its flying programme from Gatwick to Heathrow and that it intended to keep its slots at Gatwick “so it can return in line with customer demand”.
In a statement, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, said: “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.
“However, to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021.
“This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.
“I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ. The commitment of our people throughout this crisis has been nothing but amazing, and the embodiment of true Virgin spirit.
“As we have navigated the Covid-19 crisis, I have been humbled at every step by their solidarity. In times of adversity we must support each other so that ultimately, we can emerge a stronger and better Virgin Atlantic.
“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.
“Our vision for Virgin Atlantic remains the same – to become the most loved travel company, for our people and our customers. Once the crisis stabilises, Virgin Atlantic has an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s economic recovery, providing essential connectivity and competition.”
The news from Virgin Atlantic comes less than a week after low-cost airline Ryanair announced 3,000 job cuts as it witnessed a dramatic fall in passenger numbers in April due to ongoing government travel restrictions.
Visit virginatlantic.com for more information.