Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to resume passenger flights next month, with selected services to the US, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
With Heathrow Terminal 3 currently closed, the carrier will operate from Terminal 2, with flights to Orlando and Hong Kong launching on July 20, followed by routes to Shanghai, New York JFK and Los Angeles restarting the following day.
Virgin said that flights will be loaded into its reservations systems over the next two weeks, during which time other destinations are set to be confirmed for flight resumption in August.
There will be no flights from Gatwick though, with the carrier recently having announced its decision to quit the South London airport.
The airline said that “As countries around the world start to relax travel restrictions, Virgin Atlantic will resume some routes on July 20, while steadily increasing passenger flying throughout the second half of 2020, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand”.
Last month Virgin had said that it did not intend to resume flights until at least August, following the introduction of a 14-day quarantine on arrivals into the UK.
New health and safety measures will include a personal Health Pack being provided for passengers, containing “medical grade face masks as a requirement to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel”.
In line with other carriers including Virgin’s partner Delta, electrostatic spraying of disinfectant will be carried out in all cabin aircraft and toilets.
Virgin also said that “In the short term, we will 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 at Virgin Atlantic said that the carrier would carry out health questionnaires before check, and said that Virgin was “calling upon airport and health authorities to put temperature checks in place as part of a multi layered, end-to-end health screen”.
Meanwhile 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 July 20, 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.”