Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flying from July 20 and 21, with initial services followed by a ‘steady increase’ throughout the second half of the year.
Services from Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York JFK and Los Angeles will be the first to resume, with the first flights to Orlando and Hong Kong on July 20.
The airline had previously indicated that it was unlikely to resume flying until August at the earliest following the government’s announcement of a 14-day quarantine on international arrivals.
However, it confirmed on Thursday: “As countries around the world start to relax travel restrictions, Virgin Atlantic will resume some routes on 20th July, while steadily increasing passenger flying throughout the second half of 2020, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand.”
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer, said: “As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand slowly returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.
“To ensure the health and safety of our customers and our people, we’re introducing new measures at every point in the journey to offer peace of mind when taking to the skies with us.”
“Our planned first flights will be to Orlando and Hong Kong on the 20th July, however, we are monitoring external conditions extremely closely, in particular the travel restrictions many countries have in place including the 14 day quarantine policy for travellers entering the UK.
“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 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.
“We are planning to announce more destination restart dates in the next two weeks for the month of August.”
Virgin has also confirmed that it will be introducing enhanced health and safety measures at the airport and onboard.
These will include social distancing and additional cleaning, and the provision of a personal health pack for all customers which will contain medical grade face masks as a requirement to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel.
Corneel Koster, chief customer officer, said: “Our teams have been working tirelessly to ensure that the health and safety of our airport and onboard experience offers peace of mind to our customers when travelling with us.
“Our medical experts are working closely with all relevant UK and international health and aviation authorities to ensure we adhere to, and on many occasions exceed the guidance they are offering, whilst continuously reviewing and updating the measures we have in place to keep our customers and teams safe.
“We are carrying out health questionnaires before check in and are calling upon airport and health authorities to put temperature checks in place as part of a multi layered, end-to-end health screen.
“We have introduced a personal Health Pack for the comfort of all customers, and are implementing a series of measures to limit customer-to-customer and customer-to-crew contact throughout the journey.”