[AFP] Virgin Atlantic cuts 3,000 jobs, haemorrhaging jobs in the airline industry

The Virgin Atlantic company will cut 3,000 jobs due to the coronavirus crisis which is destabilizing the entire British airline sector to the point that calls for the government are increasing for a targeted aid plan.

Virgin Atlantic, which specializes in particular in transatlantic links to North America, announces in a press release the elimination of 3,150 jobs, or about a third of its workforce.
Like other companies, it is the victim of the pandemic which paralyzes air transport, depriving of turnover and dealing a severe blow to the finances of companies in the sector.

Ryanair, which also said it plans to part with 3,000 employees, said Tuesday it recorded a 99.6% collapse in the number of passengers carried in April, from 13.6 million to 40,000 in one year.
British Airways has announced it will cut 12,000 jobs.
Not to mention that the engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce plans to cut 8,000 jobs, its civil aviation division suffering particularly.

The companies are in total vagueness over the timetable for a possible resumption of flights as deconfinement has just started in several countries, and the United Kingdom has not unveiled its own exit plan.

Regardless, the social distancing measures are set to stay in place for a long time. Virgin Atlantic estimates that it will take three years before air traffic returns to normal.
Its managing director, Shai Weiss, explains that he took this decision to reduce costs and « preserve our future ».
« We’ve been through a lot of storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none have been as devastating as the Covid-19, » he said.

– Gatwick threatened? –

Virgin Atlantic specifies that it will stop for the time being its activities at London’s Gatwick airport to concentrate on that of Heathrow, one of the main world « hub ».
The company will also close 15% of the sales areas of its branch of travel agency Virgin Holidays, which will be renamed Virgin Alantic Holidays.

The airline adds that it is still seeking funding and is in talks with the UK government, which seems reluctant to help the company or the airline industry as a whole – despite having given a £ 600million loan to EasyJet as part of a business aid measure.

The government’s position is not to intervene to help a company until it has exhausted all other options, including fundraising from investors or resorting to measures to support the economy (partial unemployment and secured loans).

Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson, who still owns 51% of the company, warned that without government support it risked bankruptcy.

The Unite union called the news of the job cuts « another devastating blow » to the airline industry. He is particularly worried about the future of Gatwick airport, abandoned by several companies, and calls on the government to put in place a plan to help the sector, an idea also defended by the Labor Party.
« Tens of thousands of jobs depend on the recovery of the sector. Other governments have put in place support for their airline industry and now is the time for the UK to do the same, » said Diana Holland, an official. union.

The British pilots union Balpa said it was « shocked » by the decision of Virgin Atlantic, which could affect, according to it, 426 of its members.
He regrets that the government is still hesitant to help the company. « The government should impose a moratorium on job losses in aviation and prepare for the recovery, » said Secretary General Brian Strutton.

The idea of ​​public support also strongly displeases Ryanair, which confirmed to AFP on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint in European courts to have the agreement given by Brussels to the guaranteed loans offered by Sweden to airlines canceled. .

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