Nearly all ground workers at Virgin Atlantic Airways agreed to take unpaid leave or exit their jobs as the coronavirus outbreak batters the industry, according to Chief Executive Officer Shai Weiss.

The departures, agreed to by 96% of ground staff, came after Virgin appealed to employees to sign up for eight-week breaks, extended sabbaticals or voluntary severance. Pilots and cabin crew agreed to “multiple savings” through their unions, Weiss said Thursday in a staff memo seen by Bloomberg News.

“This was a huge collective sacrifice,” he said. “Virtually everyone in Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays has decided to voluntarily sign to tough measures in support of our future.” Pay adjustments for the time away will be spread over six months to ease the financial burden, he said.

The measures mean Virgin Atlantic will be able to avoid compulsory job cuts for now, he said, though he cautioned that “significant reductions” remain possible. The carrier is operating only six of its 46 aircraft, on routes to Delhi, New York, Los Angeles, the Caribbean and Lagos, Nigeria.

Securing financial support from the British government remains crucial, Weiss said. He was one of several airline chiefs that met with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday, after telling Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the sector may need 7.5 billion pounds ($8.6 billion) to ride out the crisis.

The government is expected to detail support in coming days, having indicated that the aviation industry will be targeted by a national bailout plan.