Virgin Atlantic has announced its plan to restart passenger flying, with services from Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York JFK and Los Angeles set to resume from 20 and 21 July.
It will then steadily increase passenger flying throughout the second half of 2020, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021 “in line with customer demand”.
The airline is also is implementing additional measures in a bid to offer peace of mind in the airport and onboard.
These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check-in, boarding gates and onboard, including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant onboard in all cabins and toilets.
Safe distancing will also be adhered to “wherever possible”, particularly at check-in and boarding and where not possible, masks will be required.
Virgin Atlantic will provide a personal health pack for customers, which will contain medical grade facemasks as a requirement to be worn onboard [at present this will be required for the duration of the flight], surface wipes and hand gel.
In the short term, it will also be offering a simplified hot food service onboard to minimise contact, enclosed from preparation “in a Covid-safe, monitored environment directly to customers’ seats”.
Health questionnaires will be distributed before check-in, and Virgin Atlantic is calling upon airport and health authorities to put temperature checks in place.
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 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.”
Corneel Koster, chief customer officer, Virgin Atlantic, added: “Our medical experts are working closely with all relevant UK and international health and aviation authorities to ensure we adhere to, and on many occasions exceed the guidance they are offering, whilst continuously reviewing and updating the measures we have in place to keep our customers and teams safe.”