Aug 11th, 2020

Virgin Atlantic: The First Aviation Fatality of COVID-19

Posted in Aviation News

Virgin Atlantic became the first aviation fatality of COVID-19.  Numerous businesses have declared bankruptcy since the Corona Virus hit.  Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to do so.

The Founder

Virgin Atlantic was founded in 1984 by Richard Branson.  The colorful multi-millionaire started in the mail-order record business at the age of 20.  He then branched into record stores (named Virgin Records) and then his own record label (Virgin Records) and was eventually knighted by Queen Elizabeth. 

Branson is viewed as a “rock star” in the business and entrepreneurial worlds.  His far-flung empire includes railroads, hotels, cell phones and space (Virgin Galactic).  Branson even made a splash (pun intended) on the hit show, Shark Tank when, as a guest judge, he threw water on Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban.

The Airline

As mentioned earlier, Virgin Atlantic was founded in 1984.  Branson first became interested in commercial air when a commercial flight that was supposed to take him to Puerto Rico was cancelled.  He then chartered a plane and offered seats to other affected passengers for a fee. 

Meanwhile, Randolph Fields thought of offering air service between the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands after the Falklands War in 1982.  He worked alongside Alan Hellary who had been a chief pilot for Laker Airways.  They brought Branson into the picture to form the airline.

Most of Branson’s businesses include the name Virgin.  Virgin Airways first flight was between Gatwick Airport in London and Newark New Jersey on June 22, 1984.  The airline has concentrated on overseas travel from its London Heathrow home base. 

Over the years they have flown multiple Airbus aircraft: A320, A321, A330, A340, and A350 as well as Boeing aircraft: 747, 767, and 787. 

The Downfall

Virgin Atlantic pinned its demise on the Corona Virus.  I have written earlier as to how to avoid contracted the virus while flying.  When countries are closed to international flights, international only airlines suffer.  Even countries that were open had a hard time enticing passenger to fly. With its almost exclusive overseas flying schedule and small size Virgin Atlantic was a prime target for bankruptcy. 

What is next for the airline?  Delta declared bankruptcy in 2005, United in 2002 and American in 2011. All three airlines recovered to post record profits in the last few years.  Virgin Atlantic is, undoubtedly, hoping for a similar recovery post-bankruptcy and post COVID.

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