It’s an extremely difficult time for the airline industry right now, and this week is no exception.

Virgin Atlantic announced this week that it is to cut a third of its staff to survive the COVID-19 crisis.

It has also announced plans to reduce the size of its aircraft fleet from 45 to 35 by summer 2022.

The British airline warned on Tuesday that it would take up to three years to return to 2019 traffic levels, as a result of the pandemic.

The Financial Times also reported that Virgin Atlantic will exit Gatwick airport, where it has been based for the past 35 years, and move leisure flying to London Heathrow as well as keeping its base at Manchester airport.

The announcement, which has shocked many people, comes after British Airways announced it could not rule out closing its Gatwick operation.

The airline currently employs around 10,000 people.

“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,” said Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss.

The airline said jobs will be lost across the board. It is currently applying for emergency loans from the government.

Pilot’s union BALPA released this statement on its website:

The news of over 3000 proposed job losses at Virgin Atlantic is devastating for those who work for the airline and BALPA is doing all it can to support members affected. There are 426 pilots at risk. This is another terrible blow for the industry and is evidence of the dire situation facing UK aviation. 

Without immediate action by the Government we will see the once world leading industry decimated and that will have an effect throughout the UK economy and to all the other industries that rely on aviation. Virgin for example applied for Government support weeks ago and Treasury is still prevaricating.

It won’t just be airline staff who are hit by this lack of support… it will reverberate right through to the whole U.K.

BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton 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. 

“My letter to the Chancellor yesterday is all the more significant – 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.”

Gatwick Airport is the ninth busiest airport in Europe and the busiest airport in the UK operating as a single-runway airport.

Commenting on its own future, Gatwick said: “We remain very optimistic about the long-term prospects of Gatwick Airport and our resilience as a business, and having remained open throughout this pandemic we are in a strong position to extend our current operations quickly to meet demand.”

Ryanair has also said it will cut 3,000 jobs, with boss Michael O’Leary saying the move was “the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months”.


This is yet more sad news coming from the airline industry. We hope that we can return to normal circumstances soon, but in light of recent news we appreciate there will be difficult times ahead to restore the industry back to what it once was. For anyone now searching for a job, please take a look at the current roles we have available on Aviation Job Search.

We would also recommend uploading your CV so recruiters can find you.


Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

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