Bob Monkhouse was a seriously funny and gifted comedian. One of his best lines, and probably one of the best of all time, was: “They all laughed when I said I'd become a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now.” Typically self-deprecating and very worthy of a re-run. We in the NTI Newsroom were reminded of the line when tracking the news of Virgin Atlantic this week. In an historical judgment the court agreed to their Restructuring Plan on Wednesday (2 September), the first of its kind under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act. Corks all over the airline were popping, as it assures (as much as anything can under the present global regime) the future of the airline and management, pilots, crew and support staff alike were cheering from the rafters ...
... well, they are not cheering now. Reports this afternoon have it that the airline is preparing to cut more than 1,000 jobs in the very same week as securing the £1.2 billion rescue deal, as it contends with a slower-than-expected recovery in international demand for air travel. We are, of course, first to the news (thanks to Neil's neighbour who just told him over the garden fence wearing what can only be described as the most tasteless pair of 'lounge-pants' known to man or God. He claims to have had Covid-19 early doors and lost his taste as a symptom. Well judging by this appalling garmenture this afternoon, he still has the virus ... and it appears to be getting worse) and Virgin are due to announce this afternoon that it is to trim its workforce again, less than four months after axing 3,150 roles and announcing the closure of its base at London's Gatwick Airport.
The company could opt to retain some of the staff being made redundant in a 'holding pool' if passenger demand recovers swiftly, in line with those affected by May's workforce restructuring. It is unclear whether Virgin plan to push the staff's heads underwater and hold them in this pool, and Richard Branson was unavailable for further clarification, swimming, as he was, in his own infinity pool on his private island paradise of Necker in the Caribbean. He plans to be held there to see if demand for afternoon tea by the pool recovers swiftly. He is such a man of the people, our Richard.
The final word in this piece must go to the great Mr Monkhouse, who died of prostate cancer in 2003, aged 75. He had several words to say about death, many of them about his own. Our favourite is this one: "When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did – in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car."