LONDON – It goes without saying it has been a tough 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the globe. Unquestionably, one of the airlines to have suffered the most is Virgin Atlantic.
Whilst national borders and traffic light systems have permitted and opened up travel, the key long-haul routes from the United Kingdom to the United States have been off the cards.
Former President Donald Trump introduced proclamations under Presidential Order 212F, restricting travel for non-lawful permanent residents, foreign nationals who had been in the Schengen Area, Ireland, and the United Kingdom (Monument Advocacy, 2020).
This Monday, President Joe Biden, lifted restrictions commencing ‘early November.’
In response to the change in policy, Virgin Atlantic CEO, Shai Weiss published on LinkedIn that “The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984.
We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. After 18 months of uncertainty, we cannot wait to welcome our customers back onboard, flying them safely to their favorite US destination.”
So how important are the trans-Atlantic routes to Virgin Atlantic?
Cirium data for June 2019 shows that their Heathrow operation operated a total of 334 flights per week. Unsurprisingly, New York JFK is the most important route, with 6 daily rotations, accounting for 42 flights per week and 25% of the total operation.
In contrast, flights to destinations outside of the United States consisted of Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, and Shanghai.