BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Virgin Atlantic has scrapped its plans to launch a new route
between Heathrow and Sao Paulo, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason.
The airline has originally planned to launch the route – its
first to South America – on 29 March, but as coronavirus began to spread
globally the company decided to push the launch back to October.
However, a statement on the Virgin Atlantic website now
says: “In response to the rapid acceleration and severe impact of Covid-19, we
are continually reviewing our flying programme in order to deploy our fleet
most effectively. 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
6 October 2020.
“If you are impacted by the route cancellation, we are
offering rebooking and refund options.”
Virgin Atlantic has grounded the vast majority of its fleet
and is currently only operating a handful of flights. There have been reports
that the airline had submitted a request to the UK government last week for a
£500 million loan to help shore up its finances in the wake of the coronavirus
crisis, but the latest reports say the government has rejected the initial
application and told the carrier to re-submit its claim after exploring all
other possible options.
Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson injected US$250
million into his businesses in March but said it was likely companies such as Virgin
Atlantic would need extra support from the government to survive the crisis.