Virgin Atlantic has dropped plans to launch flights between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo, citing the coronavirus crisis for the decision.

The carrier had originally announced the route in March 2019, and had planned to begin daily flights on March 29 this year.

But on March 4, emerging global travel restrictions led the airline to push back the route launch until October 5, and Virgin has now confirmed that the service has been scrapped.

In a statement on the carrier’s website it said:

“In response to the rapid acceleration and severe impact of Covid-19, we are continually reviewing our flying programme and as a result, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to withdraw our London Heathrow to Sao Paulo service which was due to launch on 6th October 2020.

“For anyone that has booked a flight to Sao Paulo we will be in contact about rebooking and cancellation options.”

As with all airlines worldwide, Virgin Atlantic has grounded much of its fleet, and as of the start of April was operating just three routes from Heathrow – to Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York’s JFK.