Sir Richard Branson has handed a lifeline to besieged Virgin Atlantic as airlines grapple with the impact of the omicron variant.
Virgin Group and Delta Airlines have said they will inject an additional Â£ 400million into Virgin Atlantic to provide it with a “strong financial position, ready to capitalize on market opportunities as travel demand returns”.
It comes on top of a Â£ 1.2bn bailout of lenders and investors last year, including Â£ 200m from Sir Richard. Virgin QAtlantic lost over Â£ 650million in 2020.
Josh Bayliss, Managing Director of the Virgin Group at Sir Richard, said: âWe are extremely grateful to the team at Virgin Atlantic for their incredible tenacity and commitment, which skillfully weathered the worst crisis to hit the industry. trip. “
Virgin Atlantic has been forced to cut costs to preserve its cash trail since the pandemic began, cutting thousands of jobs last year. A request for a cash injection by the billionaire’s government was turned down and he was unable to secure funds under state-backed bailout programs, unlike some of his rivals.
Over the summer, Virgin Atlantic had braced for yet another fundraiser through public market listing, but put its plans aside as extended restrictions on transatlantic travel clouded its outlook.
Virgin Group and US carrier Delta, which respectively own 51 percent of the airline’s 49 percent, have accepted the latest injection of funds, fearing passenger numbers will plummet again due to omicron.
The new variant of the coronavirus has already led to travel bans in several African countries and increased restrictions on movement across Europe.
Airlines wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday to attack “disproportionate” restrictions on travelers designed to combat the Omicron variant. All arrivals to the UK are required to pass Covid testing before departure and another test upon arrival.
The letter was signed by the bosses of BA, easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, Loganair and Jet2.
The industry was planning to meet with ministers to demand an extension of taxpayer-guaranteed loan programs, which are currently scheduled to end in the summer.