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Virgin Atlantic shuts Gatwick operations, cuts 3,000 jobs

Virgin Atlantic shuts Gatwick operations, cuts 3,000 jobs
May 05
15:05 2020

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to lay off 3,150 staff and move its operations from Gatwick Airport to Heathrow Airport.

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The layoff represents almost one-third of the airline’s total 10,000 workforce.

Shai Weiss, the airline’s chief executive officer in a statement on Tuesday, said the airline would also move its flying programme at Gatwick Airport in London to Heathrow Airport.

However, Weiss said the airline would hold on to its slots at Gatwick in hopes of a rebound in customer demand.

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The airline also said it would no longer use all its Boeing 747-400s and retire its four Airbus A330-200s in 2022; earlier than planned.

“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,” he said.

“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.

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“Depending on how long the pandemic lasts and the period of time our planes are grounded for, hopefully the same will happen this time.”

The airline projected that it could take up to three years before demand would return to 2019 levels.

Virgin Atlantic’s announcement comes after British Airways said it planned to cut 12,000 jobs and also suspend operations at Gatwick Airport.

Richard Branson, who holds a 51% stake in the airline, had written to the British government in April requesting for a loan to keep the business afloat.

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Branson used his private island as collateral but he did not get the loan.

In a letter to employees, Branson said the COVID-19 pandemic “is the most challenging time we have ever faced”.

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