Virgin Atlantic is expected to ask the government for financial help in the coming days, according to a report by the BBC.

The broadcaster said that it understands the carrier “is expected to ask for a government bailout worth hundreds of millions of pounds in the coming days”.

Earlier this month Virgin said it would ground 85 per cent of its fleet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and this week Business Traveller reported that the airline is dropping its flights from Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast, reducing its flying programme to a fleet of just six aircraft for commercial and cargo services.

Latest analysis from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the coronavirus crisis could cost airlines $250 billion. But this week the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the government would only step in to help airlines as “a last resort”, urging carriers to try to raise money from shareholders, adding that decisions would be taken on a “case-by-case” basis.

Founder Sir Richard Branson recently said he would personal pay for a $250 million rescue package for Virgin Group companies.

Virgin Atlantic is 49 per cent owned by Delta Air Lines – Branson had planned to sell a 31 per cent stake in the carrier to Air France KLM, but in December it was announced that the Virgin Group would retain its 51 per cent controlling stake.

For our guide to how to cancel, rebook or get a refund on Virgin Atlantic flights affeected by the crisis, see:

Virgin Atlantic: how to cancel, rebook or get a refund for your flight