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Virgin Atlantic staff asked to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has been criticsed by Labour politcians, who have urged him to cover the wages of Virgin Atlantic staff, who have been asked to take 8 weeks of unpaid leave due to the coronavirus.

The airline, founded by Sir Richard, announced on Monday that it had told staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave, due to a sharp drop in demand caused by the outbreak of the virus.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: 'It is a disgrace for a company owned by a billionaire to ask its employees to live without wages for two months in the middle of a crisis.'

Labour MP and deputy leadership hopeful Rosena Allin-Khan wrote: 'Everyone is under pressure but throwing hardworking staff out in the cold because shareholders want to keep costs down, is scandalous.'

The company said they were taking the drastic measures to ‘ensure cash is preserved, costs are controlled and the future of the airline is safeguarded’.

The cost to staff will be spread over six months of salary, with the airline reducing its flight schedule by 80%. They will also ground three out of four planes by March 26 due to a drop in passenger numbers and an increase in travel restrictions.

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