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Virgin Atlantic retires 747 fleet, closes Gatwick base, to lose more than 3,000 jobs in business reshaping

May 05, 2020
3 min read
Virgin Atlantic retires 747 fleet, closes Gatwick base, to lose more than 3,000 jobs in business reshaping
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The coronavirus crisis will have a lasting effect on the aviation industry — and Virgin Atlantic isn't exempt from that. On Tuesday, the carrier announced a slew of changes it will make in order to "reshape and resize" its business to survive the coronavirus crisis — and thrive in its aftermath.

In a series of moves that will help the airline to reduce costs and preserve cash, most notably, Virgin Atlantic has accelerated the retirement of its ageing Boeing 747 fleet. Effective immediately, Virgin Atlantic will no longer operate its seven 747s. The superjumbo aircraft in Virgin's fleet were originally set to retire in 2021.

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As planned, Virgin will keep its four A330-200 aircraft in operation before retiring them in 2022. Once the 747s and A330-200s are retired, Virgin's fleet will be comprised of more fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft, such as its newest Airbus A350s, Boeing 787s and A330-300s.

Related: Where is Virgin Atlantic parking its planes during the coronavirus outbreak?

In addition, the carrier is moving all of its London operations to fly exclusively out of London Heathrow. The move will see its London Gatwick base closed for the time being. However, the carrier is retaining its slot portfolio at Gatwick, allowing it to return when customer demand does.

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In the press release, Virgin said that it expects the coronavirus recovery to take up to three years to reach pre-crisis levels. As such, the airline said that it's reducing its workforce by 3,150 employees. A company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins Tuesday.

"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", Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said in a statement. "It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do".

Related: Richard Branson says Virgin Atlantic will collapse without government support

During the coronavirus crisis, Virgin started operating cargo-only flights, which has kept it operating. In the aftermath of coronavirus, Virgin will continue its cargo operations as Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

Additionally, the airline is simplifying its different businesses by rebranding Virgin Holidays as Virgin Atlantic Holidays. In 2020, 15% of the Virgin Atlantic Holidays real estate will close.

This is a developing story...

Featured image by PA Images via Getty Images

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, The New York Times, and other participating providers. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Card.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back each year on an Equinox+ subscription, or any Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR® Plus at 45+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per year on your membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees