Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to cut 3,150 jobs at the airline.
It also plans to reduce the size of its fleet of aircraft and will pull out of Gatwick airport with an option to resume flights there in future “in line with demand.”
Jobs will also go at sister company Virgin Holidays. The airline currently operates from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
It said uncertainty over when flying will resume as well as “unprecedented market conditions” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic had “severely reduced revenues”.
The troubled airline said it would also be moving its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at Gatwick so it can return in line with customer demand.
Chief executive Shai Weiss said: “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. I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ.”
He added: “After 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis, 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.”
Meanwhile Ryanair – which last week announced it is axing 3,000 jobs – saw the number of passengers flown last month collapse 99.6 per cent from 13.5 million a year ago after flights were grounded to help slow the spread of the pandemic.
The group ran 600 scheduled flights in April – including rescue and medical flights on behalf of various EU governments – compared with the 75,501 it had been expected to operate before the Covid-19 outbreak.