Virgin Atlantic Bailout Supported By Heathrow And Airbus

Several big names in the aviation industry have come together to call for the government to bail out Virgin Atlantic. The British airline is currently operating flights to only three destinations as a result of the global aviation slowdown.

Virgin Atlantic
Three UK aviation giants have called for the UK to bail out Virgin Atlantic. Photo: Getty Images

Around the globe, airlines are suffering due to a huge fall in travel demand. Tied with many national travel bans, it is simply uneconomical to keep running flights. While Virgin had operated its first cargo-only flight last week, it has now significantly cut its operations to just three destinations: Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong.

Industry supports bailout

According to Sky News, several prominent companies in the aviation industry have written to the United Kingdom transport secretary Grant Shapps. In their separate letters, they called for the UK government to “do all it can to support Virgin in these extremely difficult times”.

Sky News highlighted three companies that had written letters: London Heathrow Airport, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce. Simple Flying reached out to all three for comment. At the time of writing, a Rolls-Royce spokesperson declined to comment.

Virgin Group, Richard Branson, Cash Injection
Virgin boss Richard Branson will pump $250 million into the Virgin Group. Photo: Getty Images

However, an Airbus spokesperson commented to Simple Flying:

“Airbus is strongly advocating government support for all airlines.”

Meanwhile, a Heathrow Airport spokesperson told Simple Flying:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented negative impact on UK aviation. The Government must take urgent steps now to safeguard the future of the sector or it will risk undermining the recovery of Britain’s economy once we beat the virus.”

Airbus A330neo customer

Virgin Atlantic has a number of Airbus A330neo aircraft on order. In fact, it is understood that in the letter from Airbus, this point was explicitly brought up with Sky News reporting John Harrison, the UK chairman of Airbus, saying “collapse could have an extremely negative impact on the A330 [aircraft manufacturing] programme”.

Virgin A330neo
Virgin last year firmed up an order for the A330neo. Photo: Virgin

Virgin Atlantic placed an order for 20 Airbus A330-900 aircraft at last year’s Paris Air Show. The new Airbus A330neo order placed by Virgin Atlantic will primarily be used to replace the airline’s current Airbus A330 fleet. This will help to bring the airline’s average fleet age down significantly. Virgin has now retired its last A340s, and once the Boeing 747s are gone next year, the A330s will be the oldest aircraft.

On the 27th of March, Simple Flying reported that Virgin Atlantic would approach the United Kingdom government requesting a bailout. This news followed a previous statement from Virgin Boss Richard Branson that he would pump a quarter of a billion dollars into the Virgin Group. This was supposed to negate the need for staff to be laid off.

Do you think that the United Kingdom government should bail out Virgin Atlantic? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!