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Virgin Atlantic to resume passenger flights on July 20

The airline will initially operate London Heathrow flights to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles.

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Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to restart passenger flights on July 20 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to restart passenger flights on July 20 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to restart passenger flights on July 20 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to restart passenger flights on July 20.

The airline will initially operate London Heathrow flights to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles.

Flights will resume to more destinations in August, with details to be confirmed in the next two weeks.

Virgin Atlantic has only operated cargo flights in recent weeks due to the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It said in a statement: “As countries around the world start to relax travel restrictions, Virgin Atlantic will resume some routes on July 20, while steadily increasing passenger flying throughout the second half of 2020, with a further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand.”

Chief operating officer Juha Jarvinen said the carrier is “monitoring external conditions extremely closely” such as the UK’s incoming 14-day quarantine policy.

“We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery,” he said.

“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.”

Enhanced hygiene and safety measures announced by the airline include deploying powerful disinfectant on board “ensuring no surface is left untouched”.

Passengers will be required to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

Virgin Atlantic has previously announced it will not resume flights at Gatwick and will reduce its workforce by 3,150 people as it restructures due to the pandemic.

Founder Sir Richard Branson agreed last month to sell shares worth around 500 million US dollars (£405 million) in his Virgin Galactic space business to raise funds for his struggling airline and leisure businesses.

The businessman had warned the carrier would collapse unless it received Government support and indicated he would be willing to remortgage his private Caribbean island home on Necker Island to raise funds.

Rival airline British Airways plans to launch “a meaningful return to service” in July.

EasyJet will resume mainly domestic flights on June 15, with half its total routes reopened by the end of July.

PA