Virgin Atlantic bosses to take 15% pay cut in coronavirus response

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A Virgin Atlantic plane in Orlando airport. (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Virgin Atlantic said on Wednesday that its chief executive and senior leaders would take significant short-term pay cuts in the coming months, as the airline introduces a recruitment freeze across the company in response to the coronavirus fallout.

CEO Shai Weiss will take a 20% pay cut from April to the end of July, while the company’s executive leadership team have agreed to a 15% salary reduction.

The airline has also proposed a deferral of annual pay increases from March until August, when it will reassess the impact of coronavirus on its business.

READ MORE: Wizz Air latest airline to cut flights due to coronavirus

Virgin Atlantic on Wednesday called the coronavirus outbreak “dynamic and fast-moving” and said that the health and safety of its customers remained its “absolute priority.”

The airline, which has restricted non-essential staff travel and training, said it was taking these measures to ensure that the company was “in a robust position to weather the storm.”

Virgin Atlantic previously announced the suspension of flights between London’s Heathrow Airport and Shanghai, and has also reduced the frequency of its service to Hong Kong.

It said on Wednesday that it will defer the commencement of its new service between São Paulo and Heathrow until the winter.

READ MORE: Ryanair and BA cancel hundreds of flights due to coronavirus outbreak

“We continue to review our flying programme and additional changes will be made as the situation evolves,” Virgin Atlantic.

Earlier on Wednesday, low-cost airline Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) became the latest carrier to warn about the impact of coronavirus on its business.

Hungarian-based Wizz Air said on Wednesday demand for flights in Europe had been hit by the outbreak of the virus. As a result, it has “made adjustments” to its schedule, including cutting back on flights to Italy.

Wizz Air follows British Airways, easyJet (EZJ.L), and Ryanair (RYA.L) in reducing service in recent weeks. The rapid spread of coronavirus around the world has led to slumping demand for flights.