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Virgin Atlantic agrees private-only $1.5 billion rescue deal - REUTERS

JULY 14, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - British airline Virgin Atlantic said on Tuesday it had agreed a private-only rescue deal with shareholders and creditors worth 1.2 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) to secure its future beyond the coronavirus crisis.

It said the restructuring plan was supported by a majority of shareholders, and is expected to come into effect in late summer 2020.

The airline has had to close its Gatwick base and cut over 3,500 jobs to reshape in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has grounded planes and slashed demand for air travel.

“The last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history. We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible,” Chief Executive Shai Weiss said in a statement.

“We greatly appreciate the support of our shareholders, creditors and new private investors and, together, we will ensure that Virgin Atlantic can emerge a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.”

Founder Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic alongside U.S. airline Delta with 49%, said in April the airline would only survive if it received support from the UK government.

However, the airline clinched a deal without public funding. Virgin Group will invest 200 million pounds, as part of 600 million pounds in support from shareholders.

New partner Davidson Kempner Capital Management, an investment firm, will also provide 170 million pounds in secured funding, while creditors are giving the airline support through over 450 million pounds worth of deferrals.

In all, the support is worth 1.2 billion pounds over 18 months and the airline, which is restarting passenger flights on July 20, said it was aiming to return to profitability from 2022.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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