Virgin Atlantic warned it was still fighting for survival on Friday as it announced plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs following the successful completion of its £1.2bn private sector rescue deal.
Shai Weiss, chief executive, told the Financial Times that the airline was absolutely still in a battle to secure its future as the entire aviation industry reels from the impact of Covid-19.
Anyone operating in aviation and tourism around the world is still fighting for survival, Mr Weiss said as he urged the UK and US to work together to reopen the transatlantic market for passenger flights.
The airline said it would shed 1,150 jobs across all parts of its business on top of the 3,150 job cuts announced in May, leaving it with a little over half of the 10,000 staff it had before it was plunged into the coronavirus crisis.
Further reducing the number of people we employ is heartbreaking but essential, Mr Weiss said, adding that he did not expect to make further significant cuts.
Virgin Atlantic’s long haul-focused model has left it exposed to the collapse in international travel this year. Few passengers have been able to fly the transatlantic market, which comprises 70 per cent of Virgin Atlantic’s network, due to immigration restrictions.
Mr Weiss called for rapid and immediate action from the UK government to introduce testing on arrival and departure to allow an expansion of safe international travel.
The government has consistently said the technology does not exist to allow for safe testing, and has instead introduced quarantine requirements for passengers returning from most countries.
Executives at Virgin Atlantic are not expecting a significant resumption in flights until early next year, and estimate revenues in 2021 could still be only half of 2019 levels.
Still, Mr Weiss said the successful completion of its private sector rescue deal was a major step forward and followed a monumental effort as the airline scrambled to secure private sector funding that will inject £1.2bn over the next 18 months.