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Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic cuts 80% of flights, tells staff to take unpaid leave

By Mirror | March 17th 2020

Virgin Atlantic has said it will cut 80 per cent of flights ans ask staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave over the next three months to try to cut costs but avoid job losses.

The airline, which is 51 per cent owned by Richard Branson's group and 49 per cent owned by US airline Delta, also reduced its flight schedule and will prioritise "core routes based on customer demand".

"This change amounts (to an) approximately 80 per cent reduction in flights per day by 26 March. As a direct consequence we will be parking approximately 75 per cent of our fleet by 26 March and at points in April will go up to 85 per cent," a statement read.

"Owing to restrictions to international travel, the airline is reducing services to focus on core routes, depending on customer demand. This will be subject to constant review as the situation evolves.

"Our London Heathrow-Newark route will be permanently terminated with immediate effect."

The eight weeks' unpaid leave will have the cost spread over six months' salary in a move that it claims will "drastically reduce costs without job losses".

Other cost cutting measures included offering all staff a "one-time voluntary severance package".

Virgin has already asked for state aid in an effort to keep the business alive as travel bans and cancelled trips hit it hard.

Britain's Government said it would discuss how to protect the industry from the coronavirus pandemic after easyJet on Monday joined Virgin Atlantic in calling for government help as people across the world stop travelling.

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