Airline bosses to ask for £7,500,000,000 bailout to survive coronavirus

Airline bosses to ask for £7,500,000,000 bailout to survive coronavirus

The industry has suffered tremendously due to the Covid-19 pandemic (Picture: PA/EPA)

The bosses of Virgin Atlantic are understood to be writing a letter to the Prime Minister asking for a £7.5 billion package to help the airline industry cope with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Profits have plunged for a number of firms as travel bans are put in place across the globe and more-and-more people stay indoors as a precaution.

Virgin Atlantic chairman Peter Norris will write to Boris Johnson on Monday warning the industry is in dire need of a huge bailout to survive, Sky News reports. The letter, also signed by the company’s chief executive Shai Weiss, is expected to ask the Government for a credit facility for leading airlines to tide them over during the global pandemic.

Mr Norris says the rescue package including cash advances and other measures is estimated to be worth between £5 billion and £7.5 billion would be paid back once firms have returned to normal.

Virgin Atlantic are understood to be asking for a credit system to tide companies over (Picture: PA)
Boris Johnson is expected to receive the request next week (Picture: EPA)

Heathrow saw a 4.8% year-on-year decline in passenger numbers in February due to the outbreak due to lower demand on Asian and European routes. A number of airlines afraid to lose their take-off and landing slots under current rules say they have been ‘forced to fly almost empty planes’.

A source close to Virgin Atlantic, founded by Sir Richard Branson in 1984, said Mr Norris will ask the PM to lengthen the amount of time planes can stay grounded before losing those spaces.

Jet2 announced today they would be cancelling all flights to mainland Spain the Balearic Island and the Canary Islands with immediate effect due to coronavirus, while Ryanair have suspended all flights to and from Italy.

Last week Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, collapsed into administration, citing ‘additional pressure’ caused by the spread of the Sars-like virus.

Heathrow airport saw massive queues today as people hurried to get back to the USA before Donald Trump imposes flight restrictions (Picture: w8media)
The PM is expected to be asked for a bailout package involving advanced payments to keep airline firms afloat (Picture: EPA)

Meanwhile low cost airline Norwegian has cancelled more than 4,000 journeys and will stat laying off staff due to the pandemic.

The carrier has grounded 40% of its long-haul fleet and cancelled up to a quarter of its short hall flights until the end of May.

It comes after President Donald Trump unveiled restrictions on travel from mainland Europe to the US.

The International Air Transport Association, which represents airlines around the world, has predicted that revenue losses for 2020 could reach $113 billion dollars (£88 billion).

A number of European countries including Spain, Italy and Poland have introduced harsh flight restrictions which have proved a massive blow to budget airline Ryanair.

Denmark and Czech Republic have temporarily closed its borders to all foreigners to contain the spread and Poland is set to do the same tomorrow.

Easyjet has cancelled most of its flight to Italy – the worst affected country outside China – and has suspended many flights to France.

Which countries in Europe have closed their borders?

Various European countries have closed their borders or announced new restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s a summary of some of the measures introduced:

  • Denmark: Bans all foreigners from entering without a valid purpose
  • Poland: Foreigners banned from entering from Sunday
  • Czech Republic: Bans all foreigners from entering the country, except those with residence permits, and bans its own nationals from leaving
  • Slovakia: Closes borders to all foreigners except Poles and those with a residence permit
  • Austria: Closes three land border crossings with Italy to all foreigners, except those with medical certificates issued within four days. However, no restriction on Austrian nationals
  • Ukraine: Closes border crossings to foreigners (except diplomats) for two weeks
  • Hungary: Closes land borders with Austria and Slovenia
  • Slovenia: Closes six border crossings with Italy and suspends bus and train travel. Foreigners may only enter with a medical certificate issued within three days
  • Serbia: Closes border crossings with Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia
  • Romania: Closes borders with Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Moldova
  • Albania: Closes borders with Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia

Use this guide if you think you might be suffering from coronavirus symptoms.

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