Virgin Atlantic has confirmed plans to increase flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg, as well as bringing forward the resumption of its Cape Town route.

Virgin is currently operating three flights per week to South Africa’s largest city, but this will increase to daily from November 8.

Meanwhile the carrier’s Heathrow-Cape Town service will now restart on December 17, “following a huge surge in customer demand”.

Virgin said that bookings to the region “soared by 150 per cent in 24 hours as a result of the Government’s updated travel advice”, which saw South Africa removed from the strictest “red list”.

The airline has gradually been rebuilding its network as travel restrictions ease – earlier this month it announced plans to resume transatlantic flights to Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Virgin Atlantic to resume flights to Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco

Commenting on the news Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, said:

“We know there’s pent up customer demand for travel to South Africa, which is reflected in our recent bookings surge, so I’m thrilled we can offer our customers more services to both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

“We’re expecting a high proportion of leisure travellers on these routes, taking advantage of the winter sun, the safaris and of course, the world-famous wine region. We can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their South African adventures once more.”

Both Cape Town and Johannesburg are being operated by Virgin’s B787-9 aircraft, configured with 31 seats in Upper Class, 35 in premium economy and 192 in economy.

The airline said that return fares to Johannesburg start from £478, while those to Cape Town (on sale from October 16) will start from £578.