The shutdown of passenger airlines

Richard Branson, the British billionaire, has committed to investing $250 million into his Virgin empire to protect jobs as the UK government draws up plans to take equity stakes in airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, to counter the effects of the coronavirus crisis. Sir Richard wrote in a blog post yesterday that the chances of securing a widespread economic recovery would “depend critically upon governments around the world” implementing support programmes. It comes as talks between airlines and the UK government have continued this weekend as the latter draws up plans for a politically difficult bailout of a sector that has been blighted by a virtual shutdown of international travel… Dubai-based Emirates yesterday became the latest carrier to warn that it will almost entirely ground its passenger aircraft from Wednesday. Both easyJet and Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost airline, have announced similar moves, which are expected to come into effect from tomorrow… Virgin Atlantic has been one of the most vocal UK airlines in calling for state aid. Sir Richard, the chairman of Virgin Group which owns a majority stake in Virgin Atlantic, last week urged the government to provide up to £7.5 billion of emergency state support to rescue the UK aviation industry. 

Tanya Powley, Jim Pickard and David Crow