Up in the air
Job cuts pending at Virgin Atlantic
Barbadians employed at Virgin Atlantic are waiting to see whether they will be among 21 workers affected when the airline closes down some of its operations in the Caribbean in a move to cut out duplications and operate more efficiently.
What they do not intend to cut, however, is flights to Barbados, according to the British airline.
In a statement issued today, Virgin Atlantic announced it would be consolidating some of its Caribbean support activities into the North America head office, and the move would affect some of its 61 employees in the region.
“We are currently consulting with these individuals and we will look to retain employees within Virgin Atlantic where possible,” it said, although noting that Virgin Atlantic is committed to keeping the Barbados sales and ticketing office open.
Virgin Atlantic’s head of communications – North America, Sarah Coggins, told Barbados TODAY, in an emailed response to questions about the decision, that it was too early to say how many employees in Barbados would be affected.
“We anticipate 14 job roles to go from the region with a further seven at risk. We are working closely with the team through the consultation period, and will look to retain people within Virgin Atlantic if possible. We will also offering support and training during this difficult time,” she said.
The exact date of the start of layoffs is also unclear.
“We have spoken to the employees today and the consultation period will last six weeks, concluding July 24. The actual departure date of an employee will depend on their notice period,” Coggins said.
She explained that the move was not a reflection on the performance of the Virgin Atlantic team.
Coggins told Barbados TODAY the company carried out a thorough review of functional requirements in the Caribbean and had established areas where a single specialist team would be more beneficial than having “duplications” based in North America and Barbados.
“As part of the review we identified that the US operation was better placed to absorb the requirements of a single North America region,” she said.
“Working more efficiently is critical to our return to profitability and we need to make sure that we have the right internal structures and processes in place.”
The Virgin Atlantic statement also sought to assure that the Caribbean continues to be a key market for the airline and flights into the region would not be affected, noting that since its inaugural flight in 1998, it has flown over three million passengers into Barbados.
It said airline safety and security would also remain a top priority and would not be impacted by the pending changes.