Virgin Atlantic today confirmed that it would cut another 1,150 jobs across all functions. As transatlantic travel continues to linger at a bare minimum, the airline said the cuts were necessary to ensure its survival.
Just yesterday, we reported that Virgin Atlantic could be on the verge of cutting another 1,000 jobs, despite having secured a $1.6 billion rescue package. The carrier has now confirmed that it will make 1,150 cuts across all functions, saying they were “heartbreaking but essential” to ensure its survival.
It is attributing them to the near-collapse of transatlantic travel, which constitutes 70% of Virgin Atlantic’s network. In an interview with Bloomberg on Friday, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss stated that,
“That is the stark reality that the aviation industry as a whole now faces. Our job is always to protect as many jobs as we can, but ensure the survival of Virgin Atlantic.”
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45% of jobs gone since the crisis began
This latest round of cuts brings the numbers for the airlines up to 4,700, which is nearly half of its number of employees pre-crisis. The carrier said that a 45-day consultation would begin with unions Unite and the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) on Friday.
Virgin Atlantic also said it was introducing a voluntary company-led and financed furlough scheme for 600 of its cabin crew when the UK’s government-backed job retention scheme runs out by the end of October.
Union quick to respond
Unite, the UK’s dominant union in civil aviation was quick to issue a response to the news and did not mince words on the inaction of the UK Government in safeguarding aviation jobs. In a statement seen by Simple Flying, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary Diana Holland said,
“This announcement by Virgin Atlantic is another serious blow to the UK’s aviation industry and is a searing indictment of the cavalier way that the government has treated the aviation sector, which is key to the health of the British economy.”
Holland went on to say that the damaging “on-off” quarantine measures had been the result of government policies of “hand-wringing and confusion.” Furthermore, she added that her union would not stop campaigning for a support package for the aviation sector.
Virgin Atlantic said that based on the current outlook, it was planning for a scenario where transatlantic flying from the UK would remain at current skeleton capacity until the beginning of 2021. In the US, the carrier is currently flying to New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Miami. Other restarted long-haul destinations include Barbados, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Services to Tel Aviv will recommence this Sunday.
Meanwhile, the carrier is set to expand eastwards, as it intends to launch new routes from London and Manchester to destinations in Pakistan. Services to Islamabad and Lahore are scheduled to commence in December.