Virgin Hyperloop layoffs loom amid dramatic change in business

The dream of the day when you could board a Hyperloop to travel from one destination to another has just died out. That’s because Virgin Hyperloop, the only Hyperloop company that has passed a test with real human travelers, has now decided to focus on moving goods, not people.

As The Financial Times reports, on Friday, Virgin Hyperloop laid off 111 of its employees, or nearly half of its staff, and adopted an entirely new business model: moving goods, not people. Virgin Hyperloop told the FT that the change in business model was the result of the global supply chain crisis and COVID-19. The company said growing customer interest in a freight service was the driving factor.

The American company is owned, among others, by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the Dubai-based logistics company DP World. DP World said the goal of the new business model is to deliver freight “at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking” and that a freight-based Hyperloop could be ready by 2026. The company also cited lower regulatory barriers for freight transport as one of the benefits of the change in business model.

However, the hope of a passenger-based Hyperloop is not completely dead. DP World said the benefits of launching a successful Hyperloop freight service could be applied to a passenger service before the end of the decade.

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