Virgin Atlantic has today outlined its plans to resume flights in July. The airline hasn’t operated flights since they were suspended in late April. The news comes as demand is slowly returning, and restrictions are being loosened.
From various sources of data, it seems as though we’ve now passed the worst part of the current pandemic with regards to its effects on the aviation industry. Most airlines that suspended operations are now announcing their return to service.
However, some airlines are waiting longer than others. With the UK quarantine set to come into effect next week, Virgin Atlantic will wait a month and a half before it restarts services.
Where will it fly?
While Virgin’s 2021 summer schedule contains 24 destinations, Virgin Atlantic will initially focus on a much smaller network. On July 20th, the British carrier will launch its first two routes in both directions from London. The first flight will head east to Hong Kong, with another heading west to Orlando.
On July 21st, the airline’s other three routes will be relaunched. This will see aircraft flying to Shanghai, New York (JFK), and Los Angeles. Throughout the crisis, Virgin Atlantic has been operating cargo flights to Shanghai to bring PPE shipments to the United Kingdom.
At this time, the British airline will continue to operate cargo-only flights to ensure that global supply chains are kept open.
All of the routes announced by Virgin will operate from London Heathrow’s Terminal 2. Last month Virgin Atlantic announced that it would no longer operate any flights from its London Gatwick home, instead deciding to focus on London Heathrow. The airline typically operates from Terminal 3. However, this is currently closed due to a lack of traffic at the airport.
More routes coming
While Virgin Atlantic has only revealed five routes, more are on the way. The airline’s CCO, Juha Jarvinen told the Future Travel Experience webinar,
“We’re launching five routes in late July and then launching incremental routes in August. But it’s difficult to forecast and plan, and that really has been the underlying challenge for all of us. How do we forecast the right time to return, and also what the demand would be? But that’s what we here for and we’re looking forward to being back in the skies.”
What will be different?
It is becoming increasingly clear that when operators relaunch flights, things won’t be quite the same. As with many other operators, today Virgin Atlantic also laid out new restrictions that will apply to passengers.
Masks will be required when safe distancing is not possible. However, unlike many carriers, Virgin will be providing masks, hand gel, and surface wipes in a new “personal health pack.” For the time being, the airline will operate a simplified hot food service with contact points reduced.
Finally, Virgin will be asking all passengers to carry out health questionnaires before check-in.
Are you excited to be able to fly with Virgin Atlantic again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.