Virgin Atlantic ‘still talking’ with UK government on bailout
British airline Virgin Atlantic was still talking with the UK government about a bailout package to cope with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on travel, a company spokesperson has said. It comes as a report claimed that founder Richard Branson was seeking a buyer for the airline and had set an end of May deadline for a sale, the Metro newspaper reported on Sunday citing the Sunday Telegraph as saying.
The report also claimed that talks with the government for a 500 million pounds ($618 million) bailout package had been “effectively shelved”. But the airline’s spokesperson said that it was incorrect to say that the company has set a deadline to seek a buyer.
“Because of significant costs to our business caused by unprecedented market conditions which the COVID-19 crisis has brought with it, we are exploring all available options to obtain additional external funding,” she was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
She said talks with the British government were “ongoing and constructive”.
Virgin Atlantic is based in Britain and is 51 per cent owned by Branson’s Virgin group and 49 per cent owned by US airline Delta, reports the Metro newspaper.
The pandemic has led to a massive fall in global air travel demand.
Australia’s second-biggest airline Virgin Australia Holdings, which is a part of Virgin Group, has already succumbed to third-party led restructuring that could lead to a sale.
Last week, Branson had said that Virgin Atlantic would only survive the outbreak if it gets financial support from the UK government.
“This would be in the form of a commercial loan – it wouldn’t be free money and the airline would pay it back,” Branson said in a blog post to staff on April 20.
(This story has been published from a wire agency without modifications to the text)