Virgin Atlantic files for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in US

Bloomberg August 5 | Updated on August 05, 2020 Published on August 05, 2020

Move aimed at aiding its UK rescue plan

Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US on Tuesday after telling a London court it was set to run out of cash next month if a pending rescue deal isn’t approved.

The airline filed its petition in the Southern District of New York. Chapter 15 allows foreign companies with US assets to protect themselves against claims while they work on a turnaround plan at home.

The company had said during proceedings in the UK that it planned to apply for the US protection while it finalises a rescue plan that’s already supported by a majority of its stakeholders. Virgin is seeking to secure a £1.2-billion ($1.6 billion) rescue, which was announced in July.

“The process we have asked to be recognised is a solvent restructuring of an English company,” a Virgin spokesperson said of the Chapter 15 filing. “The UK process is proceeding with the support of a majority of its creditors,” the company said.

Airlines are under pressure as travellers shun flights to avoid exposure to the coronavirus. Three of Latin Americas biggest airlines —Latam Airlines Group SA, Avianca Holdings SA and Grupo Aeromexico SAB — are reorganising in bankruptcy court in New York.

Sales plunge

At least four US regional airlines have collapsed and revenue at carriers with vast international networks could see sales plunge 66 per cent this year, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report.

Since January 1, Virgins reservations are down 89 per cent year-over-year and demand for the second half of 2020 is at approximately 25 per cent of 2019 levels, according to court papers.

The group and its business have been adversely affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused an unprecedented near-shutdown of the global passenger aviation industry, according to the court papers. Global aviation was one of the first industries to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and is likely to be one of the last to fully recover.

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Published on August 05, 2020
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