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Richard Branson asks for government assistance in keeping Virgin Atlantic a float

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Sir Richard Branson is asking for the government to assist Virgin Atlantic financially as a result of coronavirus' impact on the airline. 

In a letter 'to all virgin family' Branson said: 'Together with the team at Virgin Atlantic, we will do everything we can to keep the airline going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.'

The airline is asking for a commercial government loan that it will have to pay back. Branson made reference to a loan given by the government to EasyJet worth £600m, in the letter.

He added: 'The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it. Without it there won’t be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost.'

There has been wide spread uproar in response to Branson's plea for help.

A petition has been set up by a Phillip Taylor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson entitled: 'Ensure Sir Richard Branson sells private assets before being bailed out by the government.'

The petition claims that Branson 'pays hardly any UK tax due to loopholes and during the coronavirus crisis he has sent staff home for eight weeks without pay'. 

Branson's responded to this in his letter, saying: 'Much has been said about Virgin Atlantic employees taking a wage reduction for eight weeks, spread across six and a half months.'

He continued: 'This was a virtually unanimous decision made by Virgin Atlantic employees and their unions, who collectively chose to do this to save as many jobs as possible – it was not forced upon them by management.'

Branson also made clear that his decision to move to the British Virgin Islands had nothing to do with tax. 

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