Virgin Group boss, Richard Branson, is offering his luxury Caribbean island resort as collateral to help obtain a UK government loan to save Virgin Atlantic. The airline has run into trouble as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the aviation world.

Branson said that he is asking for a commercial loan from the UK to help Virgin Atlantic, and this comes after his other airline, Virgin Australia, entered voluntary administration. Its request for an AUS $1.4 billion (USD $887,390 million) Australian government loan was refused.

An aerial view of Necker Island
The 74-acre island of Necker is owned by Richard Branson © Virgin Media Edition

One of the British Virgin Islands, Necker is a 74-acre island that operates as a luxury resort, with accommodation available for 34 guests. It has an idyllic location, boasting white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and average temperatures of 30ºC. Branson bought the island in 1979, and over the course of three years, transformed it into an exclusive luxury getaway. With his airlines in jeopardy, he has suggested in an open letter to staff that the island could be mortgaged.

“As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the group,” he said. "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, along with critical connectivity and huge economic value.”

"Together with the team at Virgin Atlantic, we will do everything we can to keep the airline going," he added, "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. 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."

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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