Virgin Atlantic air stewardesses training at a facility in Crawley, England

Mike Kemp | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Virgin Atlantic announced Tuesday it will cut 3,150 jobs, becoming the airline to announce a reduction in headcount because of the coronavirus crisis.

The airline said it was entering a consultation period of 45 days, during which time it will work with trade unions BALPA and Unite on the restructuring.

“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,” CEO Shai Weiss said in a statement.

“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.”

Virgin Atlantic is the latest airline to announce job cuts amid the coronavirus crisis, as grounded flights and national lockdowns ravage demand for air travel.

United Airlines reportedly said in a company memo on Monday that it was planning to cut management by 30%. British Airways warned last week that as many as 12,000 workers could be laid off.  

Virgin Atlantic faced criticism last month when billionaire owner Richard Branson sought aid from the U.K. government to help keep the airline afloat.

In an open letter, Branson defended his actions, claiming the support would be in the form of a commercial loan that would be repaid.

He described the crisis as “the most challenging time we have ever faced.” 

The International Air Transport Association predicted last month that the collapse in air travel across Europe was putting 6.7 million jobs in the region’s aviation industry at risk.

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