The airline, however, intends to retain its slot portfolio at London Gatwick so it can return in line with customer demand. Moving forward, Virgin will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester in the UK to popular destinations.
The airline’s decision to leave Gatwick is part of Virgin’s plans to reshape and resize the business in order to cope with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
A Gatwick Spokesperson said: “We have had a long, close and successful relationship with the airline since it made its maiden flight from Gatwick back in 1984.
“Virgin Atlantic will always be welcome at Gatwick and we will continue our efforts to explore ways to restart the airline’s operations as soon as possible, in the knowledge that they intend to retain their slot portfolio at Gatwick for when demand returns.
FUTURE RETURN A POSSIBILITY
“This news will be devastating for its staff and the many local businesses that supply and support the airline at the airport and its HQ in Crawley, however we will continue to work with Virgin Atlantic to get them flying again from Gatwick.”
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic commented: “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.
“To safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. 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.
“I wish it was not the case, but we will have to reduce the number of people we employ. The commitment of our people throughout this crisis has been nothing but amazing and the embodiment of true Virgin spirit. As we have navigated the Covid-19 crisis, I have been humbled at every step by their solidarity.
“In times of adversity we must support each other so that ultimately, we can emerge a stronger and better Virgin Atlantic.”
Assessing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation sector the Gatwick Spokesperson is confident that industry will recovery as air travel demand returns.
“We remain very optimistic about the long-term prospects of Gatwick Airport and our resilience as a business. Having remained open throughout this pandemic we are in a strong position to extend our current operations quickly to meet demand.”
The airport vows to continue working closely with its other airline partners including Easyjet, the IAG Group, Wizz, Tui and Ryanair to strengthen its business.
“We also welcome the recent news that another of our major airline partners —Norwegian Air — has taken important steps forward to secure its future at Gatwick. We look forward to all our airlines flying again soon,” the Spokesperson concluded.