Virgin Atlantic is to cut capacity by nearly 10% and cut up to 600 jobs this winter.

The airline is to axe its Heathrow-Chicago service and reduce the frequency of flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong. There will also be reductions in capacity on other routes.

Virgin said it would start a period of consultation with staff shortly, but hoped to make most of the cuts through sabbaticals, job sharing or voluntary redundancy.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway said: “We will look to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies and ensure we treat our staff as fairly as possible.”

Rival British Airways has also cut capacity and is asking staff to work for free.