Qatar Airways and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic latest to announce thousands of job cuts

Virgin Atlantic passenger aircraft are parked April 2 on an apron at London’s Heathrow Airport.


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State-owned Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the latest airlines to announce plans to cut large numbers of jobs due to the impact of coronavirus pandemic.

In a notice to staff Akbar al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways warned: “The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current numbers and we need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew.”

The airline employs 46,684 staff and is cutting costs along with rivals Etihad and Emirates who have both cut wages.

On Tuesday privately owned Virgin Atlantic, which was founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson, and is 49% owned by U.S. airline Delta
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warned it may cut 3,150 jobs, or about 30% of its staff, and move operations from the smaller London-area airport Gatwick to the bigger Heathrow.

Airlines from around the world have been forced to take dramatic steps to cut costs as people stay home to avoid contracting the coronavirus disease COVID-19. Fleets of aircraft lay grounded in hangars while staff have been furloughed or told they risk redundancy.

Read: British Airways to suspend 36,000 staff as airlines scrap for survival

Last month British Airways said it would cut up to 12,000 jobs as the airline’s owner warned the coronavirus recovery will take “several years.” BA parent International Consolidated Airlines
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said it had launched a restructuring and redundancy program due to the impact of the pandemic. Prior to that BA had said it was set to suspend 36,000 staff — 80% of its global workforce — following German carrier Lufthansa’s
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dramatic scale-down of capacity and worker hours.

Virgin, widely credited with transforming air travel between the U.K. and America, said in a statement: “In order for the airline to emerge from the crisis, regrettably it must reduce the number of people employed and today the company is announcing a planned reduction of 3,150 jobs across all functions.”

Read: Airline stocks are getting hammered — and the worst is yet to come

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented: “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.”

Fellow transatlantic airline Norwegian Air
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had also announced plans to pare down its service, having struck a rescue deal with shareholders.

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