Virgin Atlantic is to cut 500 jobs from management and support positions this year as part of a restructuring plan designed to secure the airline’s future through sustained profitability.
The programme follows the UK airline’s move back into profit in 2014 after several years of losses. The financial turnaround was engineered by incoming chief executive Craig Kreeger following Delta Air Lines’ deal to acquire a 49% stake from Singapore Airlines in 2012.
Virgin describes the restructuring, which was unveiled to staff earlier today, as a “transformation plan” which will reduce non-fuel costs by improving cost efficiency while “continuing to invest into customer experience”. The aim is to create “a simpler, more efficient” business with “fewer management layers”.
The airline says it will remove around 500 support and managerial roles through a combination of natural attrition, redeployment and redundancies. “These changes will take place over the next few months, with a target of completing the programme by the end of the year,” it adds.
Kreeger says the changes are needed “to truly position Virgin Atlantic for long-term and sustained success”. He adds that the airline must become “a more efficient and agile organisation” and describes the decision to make redundancies as “extremely tough to take...but necessary to secure our future”.
The airline, in which founder Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group retains a 51% stake, currently operates a fleet of 41 aircraft with a further 18 on order – including a deferred contract for six Airbus A380s.
Last October, Virgin introduced the Boeing 787-9 which will form the backbone of its long-haul fleet. Five 787-9s have been delivered with a sixth due in July, and the fleet is expected to reach 17 aircraft by 2018.