Virgin Atlantic is to become leaner and greener in its post-Covid-19 future, the company has announced.
The airline will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations. It will be moving its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at London Gatwick, so it can return in line with customer demand.
Virgin Atlantic says it will no longer use all of its seven 747-400s, with four A330-200 aircraft retiring in early 2022 as planned.
By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise of 36 twin engine aircraft reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10%, building on the 18% efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.
It is also cutting 3,150 jobs across all functions. Working with unions BALPA and Unite, a company-wide consultation period of 45 days has begun.
With the immediate retirement of @VirginAtlantic Boeing 747 fleet, we bid farewell to those royal visits. It was always a pleasure seeing 5 of them together by their gates during our busiest times. 👑✈️ pic.twitter.com/CYmOqLHZuu
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) May 5, 2020
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.
“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.
“I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ. 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.
“After 9/11 and the global financial crisis [2008-9], we took similar painful measures but fortunately many members of our team were back flying with us within a couple of years. Depending on how long the pandemic lasts and the period of time our planes are grounded for, hopefully the same will happen this time.
“Our vision for Virgin Atlantic remains the same – to become the most loved travel company, for our people and our customers. 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.”