Virgin Atlantic is trimming its winter schedule amid reports it is pursuing additional cash to pay back a loan and guard against the ongoing effects of the Covid crisis.
The Telegraph reports the airline is in talks with US private equity firm Bain Capital over a $230 million (£170 million) sale and leaseback agreement.
The move would see Virgin sell two of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Bain subsidiary Griffin Global Asset Management and then lease them back.
According to the Telegraph, the move would allow Virgin to repay a loan agreed to secure the carrier’s future last summer and generate additional capital to weather the Covid storm.
An airline spokesperson told The Telegraph Virgin Atlantic would continue to explore financing opportunities to strengthen its balance sheet, adding: “We are confident that Virgin Atlantic will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.”
It comes after Virgin sought to reduce its flight schedule in the new year to meet the limited demand for flying.
A Virgin spokesperson confirmed to TTG the airline has temporarily cancelled its Manchester-Barbados route, with passengers reprotected onto its four-times-weekly Heathrow-Barbados service.
Virgin has also reduced frequencies on a number of Heathrow services: Los Angeles drops from seven flights a week to five; Antigua, Delhi and Tel Aviv from four to two; Mumbai and Boston from three to two; and Miami from two to one.
"We recognise Covid-19 is an extremely dynamic situation, and that’s why we’re continually reviewing our flying programme, and monitoring the travel restrictions the UK government and our destination countries have in place," said a Virgin spokesperson.
They confirmed passengers booked on cancelled flights would have the option to rebook or request a refund.
In the first instance, though, passengers are automatically being provided credit equal to the value of their trip which can be used to rebook to alternative dates allowing for two date changes and a name change for travel up to 31 December 2022.
Customers booked via a third party or travel agent have been advised to contact them directly in the first instance.