"Because many of our businesses are in industries like travel, leisure and wellness, they are in a massive battle to survive and save jobs."

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Group have put in $US250 million to help its workforce across 35 countries.

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are, like most airlines, losing more-or-less all their income as a result of actions taken over the coronavirus pandemic.

“This (the coronavirus) is the most significant crisis the world has experienced in my lifetime. I usually think out loud and often share my every thought, but the scale and breadth of serious issues affecting our people and our businesses this week have meant this is my first chance I have had to put my thoughts down on paper,” Branson said on his Instagram page.

“Millions of people and thousands of businesses are being severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic. There are more than 70,000 people across 35 countries who work in Virgin companies, all of whom have been deeply affected in different ways. Because many of our businesses are in industries like travel, leisure and wellness, they are in a massive battle to survive and save jobs. Our airlines have had to ground almost all their planes; our cruise line has had to postpone its launch; our health clubs and hotels have had to close their doors and all bookings to our holiday company have stopped.”

Richard Branson said he was investing the money to protect jobs from the economic cost of the coronavirus. Richard Branson, who owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic, had been heavily criticised by politicians when it was revealed his workers were told to take unpaid leave, Forbes reported.

“I remember the days and weeks after 9/11, when all airlines and travel companies took extremely painful decisions to make redundancies in order to keep businesses afloat and the dramatic impact it had on people then,” said Richard Branson.

“We are doing all we can to stop that happening now.

“At Virgin Atlantic, we consulted with and listened to our incredible employees, who virtually unanimously decided they would collectively volunteer to take unpaid leave for eight weeks out of the next six and a half months, in order to limit financial hardship for everyone.

“Our employees are united as one behind this plan, and our shareholders and partners have respected their vision, so we can hopefully emerge and thrive with as many jobs as possible intact once the situation stabilises.”

Boris Johnson’s government in the UK is finalising a package for the stricken airlines after being told they need a £7.5 billion rescue package, while Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has waived A$715 million of fees including fuel excise and security charges, with a second financial package under discussion. Donald Trump’s administration in the US is also examining a financial assistance package for its airline industry.