• Virgin Atlantic received 5,000 job applications for 400 roles, its CEO Shai Weiss said. 
  • Weiss told the Sunday Telegraph that Virgin’s “secret sauce” meant people wanted to work there. 
  • Airlines have struggled to hire pilots, flight attendants and baggage handlers, causing delays. 

Despite an ongoing labor shortage in the airline industry, not every carrier is struggling to recruit. 

Virgin Atlantic, the transatlantic airline founded by Richard Branson received 5,000 applicants for 400 jobs, its CEO Shai Weiss told the Sunday Telegraph

The surge in applications contrasts starkly with the majority of the industry where firms have been struggling to hire pilots, baggage handlers, and flight attendants at a rate that matches pent-up consumer demand for travel. Many workers that were laid off or furloughed at the height of the pandemic have not returned.

The shortage, combined with rising fuel costs and the impact of the Ukraine war, has led to delays at airports and forced executives to cancel hundreds of flights

Virgin has not yet canceled flights this summer, according to analysis by the iNews and aviation analysts, Cirium. Weiss told the Sunday Telegraph that this was due to Virgin’s “secret sauce”, something he credits founder Richard Branson for starting. 

“We’ve put it on steroids for the last few years,” he said. “We pay fairly and competitively. In this day and age, people need to believe and they want to be a part of something,” Weiss said. He did not specifically say what Virgin’s secret sauce is. 

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The 5,000 job applications came for roles that were open in January 2022, a spokesperson told Insider. 

The airline pays cabin crew up to £22,000 a year, according to its careers portal. British Airways cabin crew can earn up to £28,00, with a starting salary of £16,000. 

On Wednesday, Virgin announced plans to hire 300 more flight crew to service new routes, Insider previously reported, alongside an announcement that it will be the first full international airline to lift its ban on cabin crew showing tattoos

Weiss hopes Virgin will return to profit by 2023 after nearly collapsing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Weiss, 54, who became CEO in 2019, told the Sunday Telegraph about his experience leading the firm through the coronavirus pandemic. He also discussed his plans to continue with his job firm despite recently being diagnosed with colon cancer, for which he is undergoing chemotherapy.

Virgin nearly collapsed when COVID-19 lockdowns grounded international travel after being ineligible for UK government support. The airline cut a total 4,300 jobs and had to restructure its debt, per the company’s 2020 annual report

Weiss is targeting a return to profitability by 2023, per the Sunday Telegraph. 

It’s not the only transatlantic airline that’s finding recruitment easy. Norse Atlantic Airways received more than 3,000 offers for its first 50 pilot roles this year. Its CEO told the BBC that the opportunity to fly Boeing Dreamliner jets had been a major draw.

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