SAD: Virgin Atlantic To Abandon Gatwick, Retire All 747’s, Eliminate ~37% of Employees

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As you already know, COVID-19 has disrupted the travel industry and many airlines are searching for funding.

Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic released a video where he stated that the airline would collapse without government support.

Several days later, Virgin is still searching for funding so they announced some drastic (and sad) measures called “our post-COVID19 future.


In the memo, Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO says:

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.

The announcement goes on to list three major changes that will be taking place with the airline. Let’s look at these changes…

CHANGE #1: Virgin Atlantic Abandons Gatwick Airport

Virgin Atlantic operates flights from London-Heathrow (LHR), London-Gatwick (LGW), and Manchester (MAN). However, going forward, Virgin Atlantic plans to “reshape and resize its business” by no longer utilizing Gatwick and operating exclusively from LHR and MAN.

This move will definitely be felt within Gatwick operations as Virgin is a major carrier from this airport.

CHANGE #2: Virgin Atlantic Will Retire All Their 747-400s

Virgin states they have seven Boeing 747-400s and they will retire all of them, effectively immediately. They also have four Airbus 330-200s that they will plan to retire in early 2022 as planned.

This is particularly sad for me. I wrote several days ago that many global airlines were unexpectedly retiring their 747s during this pandemic and that I had never flown on the “Queen of the skies.” Given the mass retirement around the globe, I was focusing on a Virgin 747 business class redemption before they retired their Queens, but obviously that’s not going to happen now. Ouch!

CHANGE #3: Virgin Atlantic Laying Off 3,000+ Employees

Although the airline states their aim is “preserving as many jobs as possible,” they regrettably must reduce the number of people employed and have planned a “reduction of 3,150 jobs across all functions” in order to emerge from the crisis.

According to google, the airline has about 8,500 employees so that’s approximately 37% of their employees.


Pulling out of Gatwick, retiring all their 747’s and reducing their employees by ~37% in an effort to cut costs is heart-wrenching. I think the aspect that makes this even sadder is that even with these measures, the airline needs to secure funding as the future of the airline is still not guaranteed.

I sincerely hope that Virgin Atlantic is able to secure funding soon.

What has been your experience with Virgin Atlantic? What do you think about this announcement?

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