Virgin Atlantic has announced 3,150 jobs losses, representing almost a third of the airline’s 10,000 UK staff.
Chief executive Shai Weiss is understood to have told staff of the move in a video conference call this afternoon.
Virgin said it was working closely with unions on the move and a company-wide consultation period of 45 days has started today.
The airline also said it would cease operations from Gatwick airport, although keep hold of its take off and landing slot allocations enabling it to return there if demand increases again.
This would see the airline instead focus on Heathrow and Manchester Airports in an effort to save money.
Virgin Atlantic also said it plans to cut the size of its fleet from 45 aircraft to 36 by the summer of 2022.
Virgin had been seeking a £500million support package from the UK government to help keep it running while the travel bans are in force, but that looks increasingly unlikely to arrive.
There have also been rumours that the airline could be sold.
Virgin Atlantic said it continues to “explore all available options to obtain additional external funding”, adding that “constructive discussions” were ongoing with several stakeholders, including the Government.
Weiss 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.”
He also expressed regret that staff would lose their jobs.
“I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ,” he said.
“The commitment of our people throughout this crisis has been nothing but amazing, and the embodiment of true Virgin spirit. As we have navigated the Covid-19 crisis, I have been humbled at every step by their solidarity. In times of adversity we must support each other so that ultimately, we can emerge a stronger and better Virgin Atlantic.”
Weiss pointed out that after the September 11th attacks, many laid-off staff were re-employed within a couple of years, adding “hopefully the same will happen this time”.
“Once the crisis stabilises, Virgin Atlantic has an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s economic recovery, providing essential connectivity and competition,” he said.
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.