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Trans-Atlantic travel restart means the world to Virgin Atlantic, says boss -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Virgin Atlantic planes can be seen arriving at Heathrow Airport as the spread coronavirus disease COVID-19 continues. London, Britain, 31 March 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File photo

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) – The reopening of the United States to British travellers will help all airlines operating between the two countries, but for UK-based trans-Atlantic-focused Virgin Atlantic, it means “the world”, its chief executive said.

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Media said that Virgin would not exist without the Atlantic. “This market is the core of all that we do.”

Virgin Atlantic is 51% Virgin Group and the rest Delta Air Lines.

As COVID-19 bans on travel slowed business, the company was in danger of collapse by 2020. It had been dependent on trans-Atlantic travelers for 70% of its revenue before the pandemic.

Last bans will be lifted on Monday as the United States opens its doors to fully vaccinated UK citizens. Virgin also has benefited since August from US citizens being able to travel freely in the UK.

Weiss expressed satisfaction with the ticket sales to the United States and added that there was strong interest in the Thanksgiving holidays as well the period leading up to Christmas.

He said that there was positive momentum for the next three to six-months.

British Airways’ owner IAG (LON) stated that it is “very optimistic” regarding the reopening trans-Atlantic travel.

Virgin was able to survive the pandemic because of a rescue agreement worth 1.5 billion pounds between Sept. 2020 & March 2021. It also had to lay off half its employees to save costs.

Weiss answered “No” when asked about current financial concerns for Virgin.

“Now that everything is improving, we are in a better spot. “I think we’re going further strengthen our balance sheets,” he stated, while not giving any details on what Virgin had in mind.

There are reports that the airline might be floating next year. Weiss, however, declined to comment.

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