Virgin Atlantic has announced plans optimise its network, in response to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, including the travel and aviation industry.
Accordingly, Virgin Atlantic said that it will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations. It will shift 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.
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘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.
‘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.’
In response to Virgin Atlantic’s plans, a Gatwick spokesperson said: ‘We are very saddened to hear the news today about Virgin Atlantic’s plans. We have had a long, close and successful relationship with the airline since it made its maiden flight from Gatwick back in 1984. Virgin Atlantic will always be welcome at Gatwick and we will continue our efforts to explore ways to restart the airline’s operations as soon as possible, in the knowledge that they intend to retain their slot portfolio at Gatwick for when demand returns.
‘This news will be devastating for its staff and the many local businesses that supply and support the airline at the airport and its HQ in Crawley, however we will continue to work with Virgin Atlantic to get them flying again from Gatwick.
Further, Virgin Atlantic said that focusing on one powerful brand, Virgin Holidays will become Virgin Atlantic Holidays, while simplifying the brands for customers.