The announcement that Virgin Atlantic is to cut a further 1,150 jobs is more concrete evidence that the government has comprehensively failed to support the UK’s key aviation sector during the pandemic, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Friday 4 September).

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “This announcement by Virgin Atlantic is another serious blow to the UK’s aviation industry and is a searing indictment of the cavalier way that the government has treated the aviation sector, which is key to the health of the British economy.

“Virgin Atlantic has done all that could be expected of it by arranging a £1.2bn rescue deal through the private sector, without government help.

“It is high time that chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps recognised that the UK aviation sector is facing devastating problems with thousands of job losses across many airlines already – and more on the cards.

“The help that the sector needs won’t be short-term as it will take some considerable time for the aviation and holiday sectors to recover as confidence to travel will return slowly.

“We need a tailor-made financial package of measures to tide the industry over the next 12 to 24 months – and Unite stands ready to take part in constructive talks to achieve that goal.

“We desperately want to avoid a second wave of aviation redundancies and the knock-on impact it will have on the wider economy.

“Unfortunately, the government’s aviation policy since the lockdown in March has been one of hand-wringing and confusion, with the ‘on-off’ quarantine measures affecting numerous countries changing almost daily.”

Unite said it will be giving maximum support to its members amongst the 600 cabin crew facing immediate redundancy and the further 600 cabin crew who will be on 50 per cent pay for two-to-seven months.

Diana Holland added: “Unite will be seeking urgent meetings with the Virgin Atlantic management to mitigate the effects of today’s announcement on our cabin crew members.

“Unite, as the leading union in the aviation sector, won’t stop campaigning for a support package from government designed to throw a lifeline to the sector which is crucial for the UK’s recovery in the post-pandemic global economy.”

The airline has already cut more than 3,500 jobs out of the 10,000 employees it had at the start of the year.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.