Virgin Atlantic is planning to start again passenger flights to 17 additional destinations from August 2020.
However, the airline announced that it is starting its first passenger flights from London Heathrow to Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Hong Kong from 20 July.
The 17 destinations that the airline is adding are Barbados, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, and Lagos. It is also adding several US airports, which include San Francisco, Miami, and Atlanta.
The airline said it is taking all precautionary measures at the airport and on board to keep its passengers and staff safe. These measures include more cleaning practices at check-in, observing social distancing wherever possible.
However, for disinfecting high-grade electrostatic spraying is used while boarding gates and onboard. The airline is offering a simple hot food service.
The airline will provide a personal health pack to each passenger. This pack will contain medical-grade face masks that the passengers will have to wear while onboard. It will also contain surface wipes and hand sanitizer gel.
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer, Virgin Atlantic said, “We are monitoring external conditions extremely closely, in particular the travel restrictions many countries have in place including the 14-day quarantine policy for travelers entering the UK.”
In addition, he said, “We know that the COVID-19 crisis subsides air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery. Therefore, we are calling for the 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.”
For the last few months, the airline was operating cargo flights only and no passenger flight was operating. The airline was operating its cargo flights in order to support the global supply chain and keep it running. It also helped to transport essential supplies around the world.
The airline plans to increase its cargo service operations by more than 600 in June. The destinations it is serving are Delhi, Chicago, Brussels, Johannesburg, Lagos, and Miami.
Virgin Atlantic is also partnering with the Department for Health and the NHS. During June and July, the airline is working with the Department for Health and the NHS operating 17 cargo charters per week from Shanghai and Beijing. Moreover, it is bringing in medical supplies frontline staff in the UK to cater to urgent needs and help take care of coronavirus patients.
Up till now, the airline said it has brought over 44 million supplies of PPE from china to the UK.
The Pandemic Crisis
To bear the expenses the airline had to cut costs. In May, the airline announced a layoff of 3,150 employees across its workforce due to the pandemic crisis.
Virgin tycoon Richard Branson majorly owns the company. He showed concern that air travel could take up to three years to recover. As people do not feel safe to travel at this time and global travel restrictions are hammering passenger numbers.