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Virgin Atlantic to temporarily suspend passenger operations

April 08, 2020
3 min read
Virgin Atlantic to temporarily suspend passenger operations
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Virgin Atlantic will not operate any passenger flights for nearly one week at the end of April. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the airline detailed that between April 20-26, it will only operate cargo services.

As reported by RoutesOnline and confirmed to TPG by Virgin Atlantic, the following scheduled services will operate as cargo-only flights:

  • London Heathrow (LHR) to New York (JFK) — April 21-26
  • London Heathrow (LHR) to Hong Kong (HKG) — April 20-26
  • London Heathrow (LHR) to Los Angeles (LAX) — April 20-26

Last month, the airline detailed that it would fly just three passenger routes until April 19 — Los Angeles, New York and Hong Kong. However, while those routes will continue after 19 April, they will carry just cargo, rather than passengers. It's worth noting, however, that New York (JFK) will get an extra day of passenger service on April 20.

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(Image courtesy of gcmap.com)
(Image courtesy of gcmap.com)

"Following the rapid acceleration of Covid-19 and extensive travel restrictions, coupled with a sharp drop in customer demand, Virgin Atlantic is continuing to review its flying programme each day and has made the decision to move most of its current scheduled services to cargo-only services from 20 April until 26 April," the airline said in a statement.

For the cargo-only flights between April 20-26, special dispensation from the Civil Aviation Authority will allow Virgin to carry cargo both in the cargo hold of its aircraft, as well as in the cabin. Scenes from inside other flights operating cargo-only flights have shown boxes strapped in to fill the seats where passengers would typically sit.

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

Passengers who were booked to fly on the now cargo-only flights between April 21-26 will be contacted with information about alternative options.

At this point, it remains unclear what operations will look like after April 26.

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In addition to continuing its three flights to LAX, JFK and HKG, though with cargo only, Virgin will also operate eight cargo flights between London Heathrow (LHR) and Shanghai (PVG) during April. The flights, which are in partnership with the Department of Health and the NHS, will see Virgin transporting medical supplies from China to the U.K.

Virgin Atlantic also said that it's working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to operate repatriation flights where needed.

The massive reduction in operations for Virgin Atlantic comes as no surprise. Last month, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said that as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the airline would ground 85% of its fleet for parts of April.

Virgin's cargo operation not only saw its first-ever flight as a result of the coronavirus, but it has proved to be an essential core of Virgin's business. As passenger demand has sharply declined, Virgin's cargo business has helped the carrier to continue operations.

Featured image by LightRocket via Getty Images

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
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Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees