Virgin Atlantic to cut 3000 jobs

British airline Virgin Atlantic plans to cut 3150 jobs and move its London Gatwick operations to Heathrow airport as it counts the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has virtually brought airports around the globe to a standstill, leaving airlines taking drastic steps to make savings.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss says the pandemic is the most damaging event in the airline's history.

""We have weathered many storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none has been as devastating as COVID-19 ... now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible," Weiss said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand."

British Airways said last week it could cut as many as 12,000 jobs, over a quarter of its total, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.

Many countries are advising against or restricting travel in a bid to halt the virus' spread.

Those restrictions have resulted in a collapse in airline traffic. On Tuesday, Ireland's Ryanair posted a 99.6 per cent fall in passenger numbers in April, while smaller low-cost carrier Wizz Air said numbers plunged 97.6 per cent.

Virgin Atlantic said it continued to explore all available options to get extra funding through talks with the government and other stakeholders about possible support for the airline.

The British Airline Pilots Association said it was a terrible blow for the industry, and urged the government to stop "prevaricating" and help the aviation sector.

"Government should call a moratorium on job losses in aviation and lead a planned recovery," BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said.

Virgin Atlantic is based in Britain and is 51 per cent owned by Richard Branson's Virgin group and 49 per cent owned by US airline Delta.

Among other steps announced on Tuesday, it said it would move its flying program at London Gatwick to the city's bigger Heathrow airport, but intended to keep its slots at Gatwick to allow it to return if customer demand rebounded.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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