After months of coronavirus disruption, Virgin Atlantic has released plans to further increase its flying schedule, from August 2020 onwards.
Virgin Atlantic hopes to restart flights to India in September
Following the airline’s earlier announcement that limited long-haul services are expected to resume from London Heathrow as of July 20, 2020, Virgin Atlantic yesterday unveiled more detailed plans that will see passenger flying restart to many destinations in the carrier’s network.
Virgin is set to return to 17 destinations, including Tel Aviv, Miami, San Francisco and Barbados planned from August.
Assuming travel restrictions are lifted, flights to Delhi and Mumbai will resume in September (Indian media reports suggest the precise start date will be September 2). As previously reported, a planned Manchester-Delhi service will not be launched.
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented:
‘As countries around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, we look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to many destinations across our network. From July 20, we are planning to resume some services and then from August 1 onwards, we will resume passenger flying to 17 additional destinations around the world including Tel Aviv, Miami, Lagos and San Francisco.’
Despite the resumption of services, Jarvinen is particularly concerned about the UK’s quarantine requirements, and suggests that other measures would be more effective in enabling Britain to return to some kind of normalcy:
‘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 UK Government to continually review its quarantine measures and instead look at a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, including air bridges, which will support a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.’
Virgin Atlantic will temporarily move to London Heathrow Terminal 2
A dramatic fall in aircraft movements since coronavirus hit has prompted Heathrow to consolidate its operations in terminals 2 and 5 (instead of running four terminals as it normally would).
Those changes mean Virgin Atlantic will operate temporarily from Terminal 2 at Heathrow, though it promises to ‘return to its much-loved home at Terminal 3 when demand at Heathrow grows’. Virgin has an impressive business class lounge, The Clubhouse, at Terminal 3 and you can read our review of the lounge here.
Virgin Atlantic expects to resume more flights in September and October 2020, but the current plan is to offer flights from Terminal 2 as follows:
What about on-board service?
Virgin Atlantic says it is implementing additional measures to offer ‘peace of mind’ both at the airport and on-board. These include enhanced cleaning practices at the airport and the use of electrostatic high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories.
Passengers will be given a personal Health Pack containing medical-grade face masks (these must be worn onboard), surface wipes and hand gel.
In the short term, the airline says it will be offering a ‘simplified hot food service’ in economy and premium economy.
Upper Class customers, however, will receive a choice of hot meals, desserts and cheese and biscuits, delivered to their seat on a tray. Virgin will temporarily operate a ‘limited alcohol offering’ in all cabins – so don’t expect to have too much fun at the bar! Read our review of Upper Class here.
Virgin Atlantic is taking the first steps towards a proper flying schedule with the planned resumption of flights to key destinations including Tel Aviv, Miami, Delhi and Mumbai, though clearly it knows the UK government must abandon its quarantine requirement for flights to be appealing.
At least for now, Virgin’s plan is to resume services to India in September, subject to travel restrictions being lifted.
Are you looking forward to flying with Virgin Atlantic again?