Virgin Atlantic May Not Fly Until August

Following the announcement on Friday of a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone arriving in the UK from June 8th, Virgin Atlantic says it does not intend to resume flights until “August at the earliest.”

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic may not fly again until August due to the UK’s new quarantine requirements. Photo: Getty Images

While it has been turbulent times, to say the least, for all of commercial aviation, the Virgin brand has had a very rough few months. While Virgin Australia entered administration just over a month ago, Virgin Atlantic has sought both government assistance and investors in a bid to keep it from insolvency long enough to get back to flying and making some revenue.

Unwelcome quarantine news

The announcements made by the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, on Friday that any traveler arriving in the UK from June 8th would need to self-isolate for two weeks did not constitute welcome news for Virgin Atlantic.

The struggling airline says that the government’s approach to obligatory self-isolation upon arrival will hinder its flights from resuming for another two months. As reported by Business Traveller,

“We are continually reviewing our flying programme and with these restrictions, there simply won’t be sufficient demand to resume passenger services before August at the earliest,” a spokesperson for the airline told the publication.

Virgin atlantic livery
Virgin is calling for the government to apply different measures than quarantine to resume successful international air travel. Photo: Getty Images

Requesting a different approach

The Virgin Atlantic spokesperson further stated that air travel would be a vital enabler for the recovery of the country’s economy post-crisis. The government should, therefore, implement,

“…a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, which will allow for a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.”

Presumably, the airline would prefer it if none of those layers consisted of quarantine-upon-arrival regulations.

Virgin Atlantic not resuming flights until August
Virgin Atlantic’s first aircraft model, the 747, will no longer be part of the fleet when it returns to service. Photo: Getty Images

A different airline returning

When Virgin Atlantic does return to the skies, it will not be doing so out of its previous base at Gatwick Airport, which it has called home ever since it first took flight 36 years ago. For now, it will focus its operations out of Heathrow and Manchester. Gatwick itself said it would welcome the carrier back with open arms, should it change its mind when demand returns.

More ties to the carrier’s earliest days are being severed as it has sent the last of its remaining Boeing 747s into retirement. Recently, sad footage emerged showing one of its kind being taken apart by recycling specialists in Wales. More than aircraft, the airline is also planning to cut 3,000 jobs, which constitutes nearly a third of its workforce.

Will more airlines delay resumptions?

Virgin Atlantic rival British Airways was planning for a return to a more substantial service offering in July. It intends to operate 45% of flights from July to September. However, with the new regulations, which will result in fines of up to £1,000 ($1,218) for failure to comply, we might see a recalibration of schedules.

Do you think the new UK quarantine rules will push other carriers to delay flight resumptions? Let us know in the comments.