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Virgin Atlantic reducing flights by 80 percent, asking staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave

Virgin Atlantic reducing flights by 80 percent, asking staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave
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Virgin Atlantic will be reducing flights by 80 percent and asking employees to take eight weeks of unpaid leave in response to a drop in demand for flights amid the coronavirus outbreak, the airline announced Monday.

Virgin Atlantic will reduce the number daily of flights by 80 percent beginning March 26 and will park about 75 percent of its fleet.

The number of parked planes will rise to about 85 percent in April, according to the airline. 

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“As a direct result of this action the airline will need to further reduce its cost base,” the airline said in the announcement. “Staff will be asked to take eight weeks unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months' salary, to drastically reduce costs without job losses.”

Virgin Atlantic will permanently terminate its route from Newark International Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport, the airline said. Other international flights will be subject to constant review as restrictions to international travel change. 

The U.S. travel ban on Europe extended to cover the United Kingdom and Ireland beginning on Monday. The restrictions do not apply to American travelers. 

Virgin Atlantic said the “drastic measures” will help ensure cash is preserved, costs are controlled and the future of the airline is safeguarded. 

Airline staff will be asked to take eight weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months, with the cost spread over six months’ salary. The measure will “drastically reduce costs without job losses,” the airline said.