Virgin Atlantic has revealed plans to fly to a further 17 destinations. The phased approach to recommencing operations will begin in a month, with the latest routes to be announced resuming in October.
Virgin Atlantic completely halted scheduled passenger operations as a result of the current aviation crisis. The airline has continued a handful of ad-hoc cargo flights in the meantime. Although, during its suspension, the red and white British carrier revealed that it would retire its entire fleet of 747s immediately, in addition to ditching its London Gatwick home. Now the airline is tasked with growing its network back up from zero.
17 new destinations
Virgin Atlantic today revealed further route resumptions. While not highlighted, the airline has also pushed back the resumption of two routes. On July 20th, the British airline was due to return to both Orlando and Hong Kong. While Hong Kong is still on the cards, Orlando has been pushed to August 24th, pending CDC approval.
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The airline had also intended to relaunch Shanghai flights a day later on July 21st. This has now been pushed back to August 4th. What about the other routes? Here’s the full list of when each route will be resumed (all from London Heathrow unless noted otherwise):
- Hong Kong – July 20th;
- New York (JFK), Los Angeles – July 21st;
- Barbados – August 1st;
- Shanghai, San Francisco – August 4th;
- Tel Aviv – August 9th;
- Miami – August 18th;
- Lagos – August 23rd;
- Orlando (from London & Manchester subject to approval) – August 24th;
- Atlanta – August 25th;
- Washington, Seattle, Las Vegas, Boston – September;
- Montego Bay, Antigua, Grenada, Tobago – October;
- Barbados (from Manchester) – October.
Of course, there is every possibility that this plan could change again, as it already has since the first five destinations were announced.
Commenting on the return to service, Juha Jarvinen, the airline’s CCO said,
“We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery. Therefore, we are calling for UK 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.”
A smaller fleet
Virgin hasn’t announced what the frequencies of each route will be. However, this smaller network will be operated by a reduced fleet. Since the start of the current situation, the airline has said farewell to two aircraft types, the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340. Both models had four engines.
Now Virgin Atlantic is left with a fleet of widebody twinjets. According to Planespotters, the airline’s fleet now comprises of 14 Airbus A330s, 4 Airbus A350s, and 17 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The airline is currently set to say goodbye to its final Airbus A330-200 in early 2022.
However, new aircraft are also inbound. The airline is still expecting to take the remainder of its Airbus A350-1000 order. Additionally, a year ago, the airline placed an order for up to 20 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft. At the time, it was expected that the first A330 would be delivered next year. However, given the current volatility of the industry, perhaps they could be delayed if demand takes time to return.
Are you looking forward to taking to the skies with Virgin Atlantic again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!