Virgin Atlantic is set to cut just over 3,000 jobs and will end operations at London Gatwick Airport as it battles to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Trade unions and staff were briefed on the redundancies yesterday lunchtime, ahead of the official announcement. The announcement by Virgin Atlantic, stated that 3,150 jobs were at risk, and follows announcements by Ryanair on plans to cut 3,000 jobs and British Airways last week, which is set to lose 12,000 jobs.

A statement on Virgin Atlantic’s website outlining its plans to survive the pandemic added that Virgin’s seven Boeing 747s would be retired and the airline’s fleet reduced from 43 planes to 36. However, the airline said it would retain its landing slots at Gatwick in case future demand allowed its operations to resume.

Recovery to “take up to three years”

The statement added that its plans were designed to “reshape and resize (the) business to ensure that is it fit for the future, in response to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, our nation and the travel and aviation industry.”

It added that capacity across the aviation industry would “significantly reduce, with recovery to pre-crisis levels expected to take up to three years.”

External funding options still being investigated

The statement read: “Virgin Atlantic continues to explore all available options to obtain additional external funding. Constructive discussions with several stakeholders, including HM Government, are ongoing, while the Company continues to benefit from shareholder support. However, to safeguard the future of the airline so it can emerge from this crisis a sustainably profitable business, further action is required.”

The company added that it would be working closely with unions BALPA and Unite a consultation period of 45 days began yesterday.

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic said: “We have weathered many storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none has been as devastating as COVID-19 and the associated loss of life and livelihood for so many.”

“However, to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. 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, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.”