Virgin Atlantic is permanently cancelling all flights out of Gatwick - and cutting 3,000 jobs

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:50 pm
Flights from Gatwick will not resume once lockdown is lifted (Photo: Shutterstock)
Flights from Gatwick will not resume once lockdown is lifted (Photo: Shutterstock)

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will end all flights out of Gatwick airport, and will cut more than 3,000 jobs.

The airline plans to reduce its workforce by 3,150 people, which is equivalent to more than a 30 per cent cut.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Why is the airline stopping flights at Gatwick?

Flights out of Gatwick airport have been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen a fall in demand as a result of travel bans around the world.

Virgin Atlantic has now confirmed that flights from Gatwick will not resume once lockdown is lifted, with some routes due to be switched to Heathrow Airport instead.

The move comes as part of an effort to reduce costs, preserve money and protect as many jobs as possible, according to chief executive Shai Weiss.

He said, “I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ.”

The airline also announced it will not return to using its seven Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which have four engines, and by 2022 it will operate a “simplified, greener fleet” of 36 twin-engine aircraft, that are more fuel efficient.

What is the government doing to help?

Virgin Atlantic is not the only airline to be struggling as a result of the pandemic, with rival British Airways announcing last week it was planning to cut 12,000 jobs.

The news of cuts by Virgin is the latest blow to the industry, with the pilots’ union Balpa stating it is hard to justify.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, said, “Our members and all staff in Virgin Atlantic will be shocked by the scale of this bombshell. We will be challenging Virgin very hard to justify this.

"Why is the government sitting on its hands while aviation plunges further towards a death spiral?

"Government should call a moratorium on job losses in aviation and lead a planned recovery."

Virgin Atlantic added that talks with the government about additional funding during the UK lockdown are still “ongoing”, but founder Sir Richard Branson warned that it risks collapse unless it is given support.

However, the government has said it is working with the airline industry to explore various options.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official spokesman said, "We continue to work closely with the sector and are willing to consider the situation of individual firms once all other government schemes and commercial options have been explored, including raising capital from existing investors."