Virgin Atlantic to cut a further 1,150 jobs despite rescue deal go-ahead

Virgin Atlantic is to cut a further 1,150 jobs and put another 600 cabin crew on extended furlough beyond October, despite securing a £1.2bn restructuring plan that was signed off by a US court on Thursday night.

Virgin said the further job losses, on top of 3,150 already announced since March, were “heartbreaking but essential” to ensure its survival, with international travel recovering more slowly than expected after the pandemic.

On Thursday the airline got court approval for its refinancing package, which involves owner Sir Richard Branson pledging an extra £200m and creditors agreeing to reduce and defer Virgin Atlantic’s debts.

Airline and aerospace job cuts on back of Covid-19 crisis

Airbus – 1,700 jobs
30 June: The European planemaker announced plans to cut 15,000 jobs, including 1,700 in the UK, as it warned the coronavirus pandemic had triggered the “gravest crisis” in its history.

Swissport – 4,500 jobs
24 June: Swissport, which handles passenger baggage and cargo for airlines, has begun a consultation process to make 4,556 workers redundant, more than half of its 8,500 UK workforce.

Bombardier – 600 jobs
11 June: The Canadian planemaker will cut 600 jobs in Northern Ireland, as part of 2,500 redundancies announced in June.

Rolls-Royce – 9,000 jobs
3 June: The jet-engine manufacturer has confirmed that 3,000 job cuts, of a planned 9,000 worldwide, will be made in sites in the UK.

easyJet – 4,500 jobs
28 May: The airline has announced plans to cut 4,500 employees, or 30% of its workforce, as it prepared for lower demand.

Tui – 8,000 jobs
13 May: Travel company Tui plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs worldwide in response to the coronavirus chaos engulfing the tourism industry.

Virgin Atlantic – 3,000 jobs
5 May: Richard Branson’s airline is to cut more than 3,000 jobs, more than a third of its workforce, and will shut its operations at Gatwick.

Ryanair – 3,000 jobs
1 May: The Irish airline intends to slash 3,000 roles and reduce staff pay by up to a fifth.

Aer Lingus – 900 jobs
1 May: The Irish flag carrier, part of International Airlines Group (IAG), plans to cut 900 jobs.

British Airways – 12,000 jobs
28 April: The UK flag carrier plans to make up to 12,000 of its staff redundant, a reduction of one in four jobs at the airline, with cabin crew, pilots and ground staff affected.

Meggitt – 1,800 jobs
23 April: British engineering company Meggitt plans to shed about 1,800 jobs making parts for commercial aviation.

Safran – 400 jobs
23 April: French aircraft seat maker Safran made 400 job cuts at its UK operations, including a plant in Cwmbran.

Flybe – 400 jobs
5 March: Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, collapsed into administration with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs, less than two months after a government bailout.

The airline announced it would start new routes to Pakistan in an attempt to revive business, with its main US routes still largely blocked to international travel.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said: “Together we have achieved what many thought impossible, and that is down to the efforts and sacrifices of so many across the company. The completion of the private-only, solvent recapitalisation of Virgin Atlantic removes much of the uncertainty we faced and represents a major step forward in our fight for survival.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our shareholders, creditors and new private investors, and together we will ensure that the airline continues to provide vital connectivity and competition.”

Weiss said it was crucial that passenger tests for Covid-19 were introduced to enable the removal of travel restrictions while protecting public health.

He added: “After the sacrifices so many of our people have made, further reducing the number of people we employ is heartbreaking but essential for survival. I truly hope that as demand returns, we will see many members of our team returning to us.”

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The company will fund its own furlough scheme for the 600 crew from October should the government’s job retention scheme not be extended.

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