Virgin Atlantic Cuts Over 3,000 Jobs in the UK; Ends Gatwick Airport Operations, A Major Hub for Orlando International Airport
Given that virtually all non-essential travel has come to a standstill due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, beside the theme parks, airlines are among the worst affected. In a recent interview, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly emphasized the need for Disney World to reopen in order to lure in more passengers. Now overseas, the stark decrease in travel has led Virgin Atlantic to announce that it is cutting 3,000 jobs in the UK and ending its operations at Gatwick airport, a major hub for Orlando International Airport and guests traveling to Walt Disney World Resort.
The airline, which currently employs a total of about 10,000 people, is in the process of applying for emergency loans from the government. Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Shai Weiss spoke to the degree of damage the pandemic has had on the company and industry as a whole:
“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.”
With the immediate retirement of @VirginAtlantic Boeing 747 fleet, we bid farewell to those royal visits. It was always a pleasure seeing 5 of them together by their gates during our busiest times. 👑✈️ pic.twitter.com/CYmOqLHZuu
Virgin Atlantic will now only be flying from London Heathrow and Manchester. With the Gatwick route now shut down, it comes at a loss of three direct flights to Orlando International Airport daily. MCO’s social media team even took to Twitter to bid the royal fleet goodbye.
Virgin Atlantic will also be reducing the size of its fleet, no longer using its fleet of seven (yeah, seven) 747-400 aircraft, one of which featured a full Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge overlay.
The airline hopes to restore about 60% of its pre-pandemic flying capacity by the end of 2020.