Under the plan, existing shareholders will contribute £600 million ($750.6 million), including £200 million ($250 million) from Virgin Group, founded by billionaire Branson. US hedge fund Davidson Kempner is providing an additional £150 million ($188 million) in secured financing and creditors have agreed to defer repayments worth £450 million ($562.5 million).
“Few could have predicted the scale of the Covid-19 crisis we have witnessed and undoubtedly, the last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history,” Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said in a statement. “We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible,” he added. The company said it expects to be profitable again from 2022.
Virgin Atlantic, which has only been operating cargo flights since April, plans to restart passenger flights from July 20. The company has laid off 3,550 staff and closed its base at London’s Gatwick airport, consolidating its operations at London Heathrow and Manchester Airport.
Global aviation has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, with airline industry losses expected to top $84 billion this year, according to the International Air Transport Association. Air travel is not expected to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2023.
— Michelle Toh contributed to this article.