British billionaire Sir Richard Branson has written an open letter warning of catastrophe if Virgin Australia collapses and leaves Qantas as the only major domestic airline.

On Monday, it was reported Virgin Australia would be heading into administration after the coronavirus pandemic dried up demand for flights.

“The brilliant Virgin Australia team is fighting to survive and need support to get through this catastrophic global crisis,” Branson wrote.

“If Virgin Australia disappears, Qantas would effectively have a monopoly of the Australian skies. We all know what that would lead to.”

His solution to the collapse is to ask for government bailouts, both for Virgin Australia and his airlines overseas.

“We will do everything we can to keep the airline going – 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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Branson stressed he is not looking for a handout, but rather a commercial loan which will be paid back in full at a later date.

Virgin Australia employs around 10,000 people, and indirectly supports a further 6,000 jobs. The future of these employees remains in limbo.

In the letter, Branson also addressed criticism about his residence in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious tax haven that’s also home to Morgan Freeman and Google co-founder Larry Page.

He has not paid personal tax in his home country for the last 14 years.

“Joan and I did not leave Britain for tax reasons but for our love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, as an uninhabited island on the edges of the BVI,” he wrote.

The comment comes as the governments of Denmark and Poland refuse to bail out companies linked to tax havens.

Image: Getty Images / Matt Jelonek