Update from Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss

Four members of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew stand at the door of an aircraft
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss speaking at an event
by Shai Weiss
19 March 2020

For information from Virgin companies on how they are handling the Covid-19 pandemic, please head over to the relevant Virgin company to find the most up to date advice. 

Here, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss shares an update from Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays:

On Monday this week, I asked our people to help us preserve cash, protect jobs and safeguard our future. This was a huge collective sacrifice: I called on everyone to sign up to a personal financial contribution for the longer-term survival of Virgin Atlantic.

Their response to this unprecedented ask, in just 74 hours, has utterly blown me away. Virtually everyone in Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays has decided to voluntarily sign to tough measures in support of our future. Along with the rest of my Leadership Team, I’ve been humbled by the way every area of our business has rallied behind the cause when we most needed them. And, of course, we have had unwavering support from Virgin Group and our partners at Delta Air Lines.

We are grateful for the support of our pilots and cabin crew, in partnership with BALPA and UNITE, in agreeing to multiple savings. In addition, an amazing 96% of our ground-based teams around the world opted for one of three measures – unpaid leave, sabbatical, and voluntary severance - showing their steadfast support and commitment. We are doing everything we can to provide flexibility on the financial burden by spreading the eight-week unpaid leave reduction in pay over a six-month period, starting in April.

I know these decisions have been hard. I’ve had emotional conversations with many of our people. As we weather this crisis, we’re all in it together – and this is a humbling outcome to achieve as one team.

A Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member adjusts her wings pin on her jacket
Bradley Everied

Through these actions we have avoided the immediate need for a significant compulsory redundancy programme, buying ourselves precious time. However, the Covid-19 crisis remains unpredictable, and even these measures may not be enough to avoid significant reductions in our workforce.

We are now turning our attention to three important priorities: outcomes of applications for sabbatical and voluntary severance; safely moving to temporary skeleton operations with six lines of flying; and crucially, securing financial support from Her Majesty’s Government. Conversations have already commenced, and we will keep you updated on our progress.

Our mission remains intact: to ensure Virgin Atlantic overcomes this crisis, protecting as many jobs as possible, so we can emerge and thrive once the situation stabilises and normal operations resume.

The Virgin spirit our people have shown is unbelievable. I cannot thank them enough for pulling together and supporting our future.


For information from Virgin companies on how they are handling the Covid-19 pandemic, please head over to the relevant Virgin company to find the most up to date advice.