Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic asks staff to take eights weeks of unpaid leave

Lianna BrindedHead of Yahoo Finance UK
Yahoo Finance UK
A Virgin Atlantic plane coming in to land at Heathrow Airport. (Steve Parsons/PA via Getty)
A Virgin Atlantic plane coming in to land at Heathrow Airport. (Steve Parsons/PA via Getty)

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it plans to ground 80% of its fleet by 26 March this year and has asked staff to take eight weeks worth of unpaid leave, to help alleviate the pressure the airline is facing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The group said that by asking staff to take unpaid leave during the course of the next three months, it will "drastically reduce costs without job losses."

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Read more: Coronavirus: Why travellers need to be careful taking a refund amid flight cancellations

Virgin Atlantic will also be axing the London Heathrow to Newark route immediately.

The measures have been taken to help the airline cope with falling passenger demand, country lockdowns, as well as travel bans.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an aviation industry trade group, said that airlines could lose between $63bn (£50bn) and $113bn in revenues as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The prediction represented a sharp jump from last month, when it estimated that the industry would only lose $29bn.

Virgin Atlantic’s announcement is the latest in a long line of updates from travel companies and airlines.

Earlier today (16 March), shares in easyJet (EZJ.L), one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe, and British Airways-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG.L) have been crashing after the airlines warned of rolling cancellations due to the uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Travel stocks hit badly by coronavirus pandemic

Multinational travel and tourism company TUI (TUI.L) also announced that it will be suspending all package holidays, cruises, and hotel operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It confirmed in a statement that it is also withdrawing the guidance it is giving to investors about how it sees its financial results for 2020 and that the executive board has “decided to apply for state aid guarantees to support the business until normal operations are resumed.”

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