UK Airline CEOs To Ask For £7.5 Billion Bailout To Survive


This weekend, the White House extended its temporary European travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. With transatlantic traffic contributing highly to the revenue of UK-based airlines, CEOs will request billions of pounds to cover losses from these recent events.

Virgin Atlantic Hong Kong
Virgin’s group CEO is planning to ask the UK government for help. Photo: Getty Images

A lot at stake

Sky News reports that the British airline industry needs emergency support worth up to £7.5 billion ($9.2 billion). This amount would help it defend against a catastrophic result that would cause tens of thousands of jobs to be lost.

Virgin Group chairman Peter Norris will write to UK prime minister Boris Johnson to warn that the industry needs urgent financial aid to stay alive.

Altogether, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Ryanair have all had their schedules rocked this week following international travel bans and airport closures. Along with the US bans, European nations have also enforced drastic measures to halt the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, the likes of Denmark, Poland, and Norway have all closed their intentional airports over the last few days.

Therefore, several planes will now have to be grounded and many employees are in a state of limbo as their roles may no longer be necessary. There was already a drop in demand due to the novel coronavirus outbreak but now airlines are having no choice but to keep aircraft grounded on large chunks of their networks.

The Daily Mail reports that British Airways CEO Alex Cruz told employees on Thursday that jobs could be lost. He summarized that the situation was more serious than 9/11, the 2008 global financial crisis and the SARS outbreak.

Virgin Atlantic
British airlines are in trouble following this week’s actions. Photo: Getty Images

Assistance needed

Donald Trump has been in communication with US airlines amid the growing concerns within his country. The US president then shared his admiration for the industry and will give them the help that they need. The pandemic is looking to impact the global economy over the next few months. Therefore, authorities on both sides of the pond need to be in clear communication with key industries. This will help minimize the damage caused.

Travel bans have been put in place to help countries handle the outbreak. However, they could be detrimental if they last. Millions of passengers rely on air travel for personal and business reasons. Several markets are already negatively impacted due to the virus. Therefore, proactive measures need to be put into place to reduce financial losses and redundancies.

Heathrow British Airways BA
There will be far fewer planes taking off from Heathrow this spring. Photo: Getty Images.

Balanced measures

The United Arab Emirates recently announced that it will temporarily halt all entry visas, starting Tuesday, March 17th. However, What’s On reports that the country will put these suspensions in place until a mechanism for medical screening for all arrival passengers is established.

Perhaps other nations that are placing travel restrictions will also be looking to invest in effective screening technology as it could be many months until the pandemic starts to slow down. If they choose to wait until a downward trend in global cases, then there could be detrimental results for several markets.

What are your thoughts on how airlines are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak? Have you been affected by any cancellations as a result of travel restrictions? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

Simple Flying reached out to Virgin for comment on the reports but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.