If you read our earlier post about Virgin, none of the following will come as a surprise.
A few days ago, we suggested that Richard Branson’s vitriolic and totally inaccurate comments about British Airways indicated that Virgin itself was in much greater trouble. Branson has past form on this – and silly verbal wars are a sure sign of one of his companies facing a hard time.
The truth has emerged rather faster than we might have expected.
Virgin, like every other airline, is facing a serious slump in revenue. However, what is startling is that its forward bookings are 30% down, compared to just 17% at British Airways.
Most airlines are looking to suspend routes, ground aircraft and make staff redundant but a 14% reduction including – so it is rumoured – 20% of all pilots, is pretty severe.
In other words, Virgin, whose strategy was to cherry-pick profitable routes and Business Class traffic from BA, is suffering more than BA.
Virgin have contacted us to say that their June booking statistics were actually ahead of many of their competitors. Whilst we are happy to include this statement, it should be added that, as a private company, Virgin publishes far less data than the major airlines, so it is much harder to judge where the company stands. We are also rather surprised that the Virgin PR machine has not gone into battle with an American consulting company that produced a much more negative report than our’s. This has been well-circulated (even appearing on the website of the unofficial Virgin “fan club”, www.v-flyer.com) without any comment appearing from Virgin themselves.