Virgin Atlantic will resume at least 19 long-haul routes by October
Virgin Atlantic is expecting to make a substantial return to service later this summer. On Monday, the carrier announced that it has made some changes to the five destinations it announced earlier this month, as well as announcing several new routes for August and beyond.
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Virgin announced on Monday that it plans to add the following destinations back to its route map:
- London Heathrow (LHR) to Barbados (BGI) — as of Aug. 1
- London Heathrow (LHR) to San Francisco (SFO) — as of Aug. 4
- London Heathrow (LHR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) — as of Aug. 9
- London Heathrow (LHR) to Miami (MIA) — as of Aug. 18
- London Heathrow (LHR) to Lagos (LOS) — as of Aug. 23
- London Heathrow (LHR) to Atlanta (ATL) — as of Aug. 25
Additionally, as of September 2020, the airline plans to relaunch service between LHR and Washington, D.C. (IAD), Seattle (SEA), Las Vegas (LAS), Mumbai (BOM), Delhi (DEL) and Johannesburg (JNB). Then, as of October 2020, the airline plans to fly between LHR and Boston (BOS).
As originally planned, Virgin will relaunch service from London Heathrow to Hong Kong on July 20 before relaunching LHR to New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) on July 21. However, it has delayed two other routes that had been set to resume on July 20 and July 21.
Related: Virgin Atlantic to resume 5 routes in July, all passengers to get a personal ‘Health Pack’
London Heathrow to Shanghai (PVG) has been delayed until Aug. 4, and London Heathrow and Manchester (MAN) to Orlando (MCO) has been pushed back until Aug. 24. The company says the latter route is still subject to CDC approval.
Once all of the planned routes have resumed as of October 2020, Virgin Atlantic will operate a total of 19 routes.
When flights resume, Virgin will operate out of London Heathrow’s Terminal 2, a move from its permanent home in Terminal 3, which remains closed at this time. The airline said that when Heathrow demand returns, Terminal 3 will be able to reopen. However, a timeline for that remains unclear.
While it’s only officially planning to relaunch these 19 routes as of this time, the airline said that it continues to monitor its network and does expect more flights from both Heathrow and Manchester to resume in September and October 2020.
Additionally, the airline said that it doesn’t expect to resume service on the popular holiday routes between Glasgow (GLA) and Belfast (BFS) to Orlando (MCO) until summer 2021.
In its announcement, Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said that the U.K. government’s 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals has forced the airline to rethink some routes.
“We are calling for U.K. Government to continually review its quarantine measures and instead look at a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, including air bridges, which will support a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses,” Jarvinen said.
Interestingly, Virgin Atlantic is launching two flights to the U.S. in late July — New York and Los Angeles. The U.S. currently still forbids any non-nationals from entering the country that have visited a number of countries in the past 14 days, including the U.K. Additionally, the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) still advises against all non-essential international travel. Presumably, Virgin Atlantic is relying on those restrictions to have lifted by the time it resumes service.
When Virgin Atlantic passenger flights do resume as of July 20, passengers can expect a very different flying experience. For each passenger, the airline is supplying a Health Pack, which will contain a medical-grade face mask, surface wipes and hand gel.
Virgin Atlantic has been open about its financial struggle. In May, Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson said that the airline would collapse without government support.
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, Virgin has continued to operate cargo flights to carry necessary medical equipment to and from the U.K. Additionally, it operated some essential repatriation flights, and at one point, it suspended passenger operations altogether.