Virgin Atlantic resumes flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong, New York and LA but warns passengers ‘it’s essential travel only’
- Virgin Atlantic will fly to Hong Kong tonight, with New York and LA tomorrow
- The airline giant expects to run three round trips to the cities each week
- Flights will leave from Terminal 2 until passenger numbers at Heathrow grow
Virgin Atlantic is set to resume flights to Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles this week, but bosses are warning passengers ‘it’s essential travel only.’
Tonight a Virgin Atlantic flight will leave Terminal 2 at Heathrow bound for Hong Kong, with two more flights bound for New York and LA set to to take off tomorrow.
From today the airline giant will be carrying out round trips to each destination three times a week – with more destinations, including Barbados and Shanghai, set to return next month.
Virgin Atlantic will fly out to Hong Hong tonight as it looks to resume its service – less than a week after announcing a £1.2billion refinancing package to secure its future
Last week the the airline giant announced plans for a refinancing package worth £1.2 billion to secure its future, involving private funds.
Operating chief Cornell Koster told Bloomberg TV last week: ‘Bookings initially are looking limited and load factors will be relatively low.
‘We do believe there is pent-up demand out there, but we don’t know when our major market to and from the US will open.’
Passengers will be asked to sit a space apart, with social distancing measures in place as Virgin Atlantic looks to return to the skies
The senior chief said it ‘will take time’ for corporate demand to recover, with a company spokesman saying it was ‘continually monitoring conditions,’ to determine when it could increase the number of flights.
Entry to the US remains restricted for permanent residents and US citizens, though there is some leniency for close family members and diplomats.
The Hong Kong flight at 9.50pm tonight will take off from Terminal 2.
A company spokesman said: ‘Virgin Atlantic will return to its much-loved home at London Heathrow Terminal 3 when demand at Heathrow grows, enabling Terminal 3 to reopen.’
After months of uncertainty, that left Virgin Atlantic’s check-in area at Heathrow (above, in April) empty, flights are set to return from this week
When will Virgin Atlantic services resume from Heathrow and Manchester?
Hong Kong – July 20
New York JFK, Los Angeles – July 21
Barbados – August 1
Shanghai – August 4
Miami – August 18
Lagos – August 23
Tel Avid – September 6
San Francisco – September 15
Atlanta, Washington, Seattle, Las Vegas, Mumbai, Delhi and Johannesburg – September
Heathrow and Manchester to Orlando – October 6
Boston, Montego Bay, Antigua, Grenada, Tobago (via Antigua) and Barbados (from Manchester) – October
Despite announcing a major refunding package to secure the airline company’s future, Virgin Atlantic looks set to cut 3,150 jobs.
In total, the restructuring will be worth up to £1.2 billion over 18 months and it will also allow Sir Richard to retain a controlling interest in the airline. He currently owns 51 per cent of the business.
The airline’s chief executive Shai Weiss said: ‘Few could have predicted the scale of the Covid-19 crisis we have witnessed and undoubtedly, the last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history.
‘We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible.
‘The solvent recapitalisation of Virgin Atlantic will ensure that we can continue to provide vital connectivity and competition to consumers and businesses in Britain and beyond.
‘We greatly appreciate the support of our shareholders, creditors and new private investors and together, we will ensure that Virgin Atlantic can emerge a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.’
The government is not involved in the rescue package, though the airline will be using a new-court sanctioned process introduced by a government reform.
That reform was introduced to enable smoother corporate restructurings amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Virgin Group will inject £200 million into the airline, while Davidson Kempner will lend £170 million.
Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic’s two shareholders, will collectively defer approximately £400 million of fees.
In the last few hours the backing of First Data, a subsidiary of Nasdaq-listed US firm Fiserv, which had previously made onerous demands relating to cash collateral, is understood to have been secured, enabling the deal to go ahead, according to banking sources.