CAPA Live: Virgin Atlantic CEO ensures survival, plots path to profits

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Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss was one of the featured airline CEOs on CAPA Live on 11-Nov-2020.

In an interview with CAPA Chief Financial Analyst, Jonathan Wober, Mr Weiss explained how he is drawing on all his business experience to navigate a course for Virgin Atlantic through the pandemic. The UK airline's CEO has previously served as its CFO and CCO and he has also worked in the cable industry – another sector built around networks and infrastructure.

As an all-widebody, long haul only airline, Virgin Atlantic has been even harder hit by the closure of borders and the collapse in air travel than most European airlines. However, immediate survival concerns have been addressed by a recapitalisation and significant cost restructuring. Mr Weiss has rationalised operations into London Heathrow only (although the airline is planning to resume at Manchester next month), halved the workforce, shrunk the fleet and accelerated the exit of four-engined aircraft.

However, the story is not exclusively about contraction. Virgin Atlantic is planning new routes to India and Pakistan

Mr Weiss told CAPA Live that Virgin Atlantic can still fly the same number of sectors with its smaller fleet. Moreover, Mr Weiss says, the lower cost base positions the airline to be sustainably profitable when revenue recovers.

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