Coronavirus: Sir Richard Branson warns his airlines will collapse without government cash

Sir Richard Branson has told staff that Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia will need financial help if they are to survive the coronavirus crisis.

The tycoon used an open letter to his 70,000 staff in 35 countries to reassure them he was “working day and night”, doing all he could to invest across his business interests despite “no money coming in and lots going out”.

He admitted his companies were exposed to many of the sectors worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – travel and leisure included – and also hit out at critics.

Sir Richard wrote: “Over the five decades I have been in business, this is the most challenging time we have ever faced.

“It is hard to find the words to convey what a devastating impact this pandemic continues to have on so many communities, businesses and people around the world.

“From a business perspective, the damage to many is unprecedented and the length of the disruption remains worryingly unknown.”

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