Virgin Atlantic to resume service, return to the US in July; flyers to get ‘Health Packs’

Jun 4, 2020

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Virgin Atlantic has unveiled its plans for a return to service. Beginning in late July, Virgin will resume flying from its London Heathrow base five destinations.

Beginning on July 20, the airline will fly from London Heathrow (LHR) to Orlando (MCO) and Hong Kong (HKG). Then, on July 21, Virgin will fly from LHR to Shanghai (PVG), New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX).

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The airline said in a statement that it will announce additional destinations in the next two weeks for the month of August.

(Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)
(Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)

“As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand slowly returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their favourite destinations,” Virgin Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen said in a statement.

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.

In addition to announcing the first passenger routes on Thursday, Virgin also unveiled new health and safety measures in place for crew and passengers alike. Like many airlines, Virgin plans to offer advanced cleaning procedures on its aircraft and in the airport.

Additionally, the airline will require that all passengers and crew wear masks when on board its aircraft. Virgin joins a growing list of European airlines that require passengers to wear masks.

For each passenger, the airline is supplying a Health Pack, which will contain a medical-grade face mask, surface wipes and hand gel.

Related: BA and Virgin join growing list of European airlines asking passengers to wear face masks

The Virgin Atlantic Health Pack. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

When flights first resume, there will be a simplified hot food service to reduce contact between passengers and crew.

“We are carrying out health questionnaires before check in and are calling upon airport and health authorities to put temperature checks in place as part of a multi layered, end-to-end health screen,” Virgin Chief Customer Officer Corneel Koster said in a statement.

Last week, the airline said that the U.K.’s mandatory 14-day self-isolation for arriving passengers would force it to delay the resumption of its services until early August. However, with Thursday’s announcement that it’s returning to service as of the end of July, those plans appear to have changed.

The 14-day quarantine for all arriving travelers into the U.K. takes effect as of June 8. Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed this week that the policy will be revised every three weeks. In future interactions, we could see the introduction of “air bridges”, which would rule passengers from some low-risk countries exempt from the quarantine.

Virgin Atlantic has been open about its financial struggle during the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson said that the airline would collapse without government support.

Throughout the crisis, it’s 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.

Related: Left without flyers, airlines are using passenger jets for cargo

The airline said that it plans to continue to operate cargo-only flights in addition to the passenger flights that will resume in late July.

Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.



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