British entrepreneur Richard Branson says his Virgin airlines need government financial support if they are to survive the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry.
Branson promised to do everything he could to keep his flagship Virgin Atlantic operating.
“But we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.
“This would be in the form of a commercial loan – it wouldn’t be free money and the airline would pay it back,” he wrote in an open letter to Virgin staff.
He noted that low-cost airline easyJet had secured a loan of 600 million pounds (746 million dollars).
On Friday, the Financial Times reported that the government had asked Virgin Atlantic to resubmit a request for a 500-million-pound bailout package, feeling the airline had not shown that it had explored other options for extra funding.
Australian broadcaster ABC had said that Virgin Australia is facing insolvency and seeking a bailout of 1.4 billion Australian dollars (890 million dollars).
Branson said: “Virgin Australia is fighting to survive and needs support to get through this catastrophic global crisis.
“The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it.
“Without it there won’t be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost, along with critical connectivity and huge economic value.”