The COVID-19 pandemic has brought aviation around the world – both, airports and airlines – to a standstill. Airlines are left to take drastic measures to preserve cash and make sure that the business stays afloat in these afflicting times. The British carrier, Virgin Atlantic, reported on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, that it plans to cut 3150 jobs and shall move its entire flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow airport.

The airline has stated that while they shall be taking measures to help the company save money, they are continuing to explore all possible options to get extra funding. Negotiations with the government and other stakeholders about possible support in such challenging times have been underway since last couple weeks. 

Virgin Atlantic aircraft parked at Bournemouth ©Getty Images

Shai Weiss, the Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, stated:

‘To safeguard our future and emerge as 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.’

British Airlines also stated last week that it would cut around 12000 jobs over the current quarter. The redundancy plans at various airlines in the UK has intensified calls from unions for support from the government for the aviation sector. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has pointed it out that while the current job losses in aviation is a big blow for not only the aviation industry in particular, but also a multitude of sectors that further depend on aviation, such as tourism, the government should stop being evasive and provide aid to the aviation sector at the earliest. 

Brian Strutton, the BALPA General Secretary, stated:

‘The Government should call a moratorium on job losses in aviation and lead a planned recovery’.

In response, the government has said that it is providing aid through furloughing salary schemes, tax breaks, and offering loans, however, Virgin Atlangtic has not been using the government’s job retention programme. 

Virgin Atlantic shall be retiring all of their 747-400s. ©Flickr

Virgin has made it clear that their primary focus shall be to return to profitability in 2021, which shall include taking steps to resize and reshape the carrier in line with current and future demand. The airline’s Chief Executive has also stated that while the carrier has stood strong through numerous tests of time over the last 36 years, none of them have been as devastating as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In an attempt to increase the efficiency of their current fleet, alongside KLM and Qantas, now, even Virgin Atlantic has decided to retire all of its Boeing 747-400 aircraft (a total of seven in their current fleet).

Job security in aviation sector has been a worrisome matter around the globe for the last couple months, and with the uncertainty regarding when (and whether) the situation shall get back to normal, it would be expected to remain so. 

What do you think about Virgin Atlantic’s position? Will the airline be able to make it through this cataclysm? Let us know in the comments! 

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