Posted by Sade Williams
Virgin Atlantic has announced its plan to restart passenger flight, with services from London Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York JFK and Los Angeles set to resume from 20th and 21st July 2020.
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.
Commenting on the development, Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic 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.”
Flights will be loaded into systems over the next two weeks subject to change.
Virgin Atlantic operates temporarily from Terminal 2 at Heathrow, due to HAL’s terminal consolidation. Virgin Atlantic will return to its much loved home at London Heathrow Terminal 3 when demand at Heathrow grows, enabling Terminal 3 to reopen
To ensure the health and safety of its customers, Virgin Atlantic is implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies.
These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant onboard in all our cabins and lavatories, ensuring no surface is left untouched.
Safe distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, particularly at check-in and boarding and where not possible, masks will be required.
“We will provide a personal Health Pack for the wellbeing and comfort of all our customers, which will contain medical grade face masks as a requirement to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel. In the short term, we will also be offering a simplified hot food service onboard to minimise contact, enclosed from preparation in a Covid-safe, monitored environment directly to our customers’ seats.
Corneel Koster, Chief Customer Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: “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 U.K. 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, containing medical grade face masks, surface wipes and hand gel, and are implementing a series of measures to limit customer-to-customer and customer-to-crew contact throughout the journey. While we will continuously review our measures, wearing a mask for the duration of the flight will initially be required. Our meticulous cleaning program ensures our planes are disinfected and amongst the cleanest in the skies, while we work with our airport partners to ensure sanitisation of customer touchpoints on the ground. Our customers are in safe hands and we are really looking forward to welcoming them back onboard from the 20th July.”
In addition to the restart of passenger flying, Virgin Atlantic continues to operate cargo-only flights keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. Throughout June, the airline plans to operate more than 600 cargo-only services, serving destinations including Tel Aviv, Chicago, Brussels, Johannesburg, Lagos and Miami.
The airline also looks forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on 17 cargo charters per week from Shanghai and Beijing throughout June and July, bringing in the vital medical supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. To date the airline has carried over 44 million items of PPE from China to the UK.