Virgin Atlantic has 13 passenger routes to Heathrow next week – all bookable – together with cargo-only services. If international leisure travel is allowed from May 17th as hoped, that will rise to 31 – including five from Manchester.
May 17th is the date that everyone is looking at as the earliest that international leisure travel from the UK may resume. It won’t be straightforward, with strict rules for those returning to the UK based on every country being allocated a color: green, amber, or red.
But there is effectively a ‘traffic right’ system in place already, although all travel must be essential until May at the earliest. Ireland is the only green country, while the UK Government lists some 40 countries on the red list. With limited exceptions, entry into the UK is banned from red countries.
India is joining the red list
India will join the red list at 04:00 on Friday, 23rd April, because of rising coronavirus cases and the potentially worrying new mutation of the virus. Virgin Atlantic is one airline that will suffer as a result.
It is not serving South Africa – also a ‘red’ country – except for cargo, for which it is operating to Johannesburg once daily. In contrast, it is serving Pakistan – another red country – for those passengers who meet the requirements for essential travel, the same as British Airways.
13 routes operating next week
While all eyes are on May 17th, Virgin Atlantic – like most airlines – continues to operate but just enormously scaled back. Analyzing its route network and what is available for booking, the full-service airline will operate 13 passenger-bookable routes next week, beginning April 26th, with routes all from Heathrow.
It will have some 44 departures, as shown below. Note that Delhi and Mumbai may change further.
- Lagos: 7 weekly flights
- New York JFK: 7
- Los Angeles: 5
- Tel Aviv: 4
- Islamabad: 3
- Delhi: 3
- Lahore: 3
- Atlanta: 3
- Hong Kong: 3 (only bookable to London)
- Barbados: 2
- Mumbai: 2
- Boston: 1
- Miami: 1
Lagos is only one of two routes with a once-daily service next week. The A330-300 will be used, with a scheduled departure time from Heathrow at 2230. With an arrival time into Lagos at 0515, it will then departs at 0930 and arrive back in Heathrow at 1620.
Virgin Atlantic competes with British Airways on this route, which uses B777-300ERs and has a reverse schedule: daytime to Lagos and overnight back. This is timed for connections.
All eyes on May 17th
Come the week beginning May 17th, 31 destinations are bookable and around 200 weekly departures. This may change depending on whether the go-ahead is given for non-essential travel, but that is the situation now.
26 routes are from Heathrow along with five from Manchester. Heathrow’s offering includes two operating via Antigua: twice-weekly service to Grenada and once-weekly to Tobago.
|From||To||Weekly departures (week starting May 17th)|
|Heathrow||New York JFK||28|
|Manchester||New York JFK||7|
|Heathrow||Grenada (via Antigua)||2|
|Heathrow||Tobago (via Antigua)||1|
New York JFK is, as you’d expect, by far the highest; it is one of 14 routes operate to the US. No wonder Virgin Atlantic wants the country to be in the coming green category. All US routes will be once-daily or more, with the sole exception of Manchester to Los Angeles. This route began in 2019 and was previously served by Thomas Cook.
Virgin Atlantic will inaugurate St. Vincent on 23rd June, its seventh destination in the Caribbean. It’ll operate twice-weekly via Antigua, with service to Antigua rising to once-daily.
Will you be flying with Virgin Atlantic this year? Comment below!