Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways is planning to list on the London Stock Exchange in a bid to raise capital as international travel makes a recovery.
The UK-based airline is understood to have been presenting to fund managers about the listing which could occur as early as the Autumn.
The company sustained losses of £659m in 2020 as worldwide Covid restrictions battered the global travel industry. It was denied state aid by the UK government despite competitors British Airways and easyJet both being granted support.
To cover its losses Virgin Atlantic cut thousands of jobs, retired its fleet of Boeing 747 jets and negotiated a £1.2bn rescue package with investors.
The listing will be the airline’s first since its launch in 1984 and could help the company recoup capital at a crucial moment for the travel industry which is making a recovery as international bans on business and holiday travel lift. It will also help the company to withstand further shocks.
Reportedly, bankers from Citi and Barclays have been appointed to lead the IPO. However, Virgin Atlantic are yet to confirm the news. A spokesperson said “we’re not commenting on speculation”.
Virgin Group owns 51 per cent of the airline, with the US-based Delta Air Lines owning the remainder. It is likely that the listing would cause Branson’s stake in the company to fall below 50 per cent.