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Virgin Atlantic has announced a plan to restart passenger
flights, with services from Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York
JFK and Los Angeles to resume on 20 and 21 July.
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic,
said: “As the Covid-9 crisis stabilises and demand slowly returns, we are
looking forward to welcoming our customers back on board 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 20 July, 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.”
The airline said it will enhance its cleaning protocols at
check-in areas, boarding gates and on board aircraft including the use of
electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in cabins and toilets.
Physical distancing will also be in place wherever possible, particularly at
check-in and boarding, and masks will be required for both passengers and crew
where distancing cannot be practised. Passengers will be provided with a
personal health pack containing medical-grade facemasks, surface wipes and hand
sanitiser. A simplified hot food service will be offered to minimise contact.
Virgin Atlantic had initially said it would delay restarting
flights until at least August following the UK government’s announcement of
incoming quarantine requirements for travellers. The carrier has placed the
majority of its staff on furlough under the coronavirus job retention scheme,
but it is planning to make up to 3,000 job cuts and cease operations at Gatwick
airport as a result of the pandemic. It is currently seeking additional funding
to improve its liquidity in the wake of the crisis.