Virgin Atlantic delays restart of Orlando flights amid Florida’s Covid-19 spike

Virgin Atlantic has delayed the resumption of its flights to Orlando, Florida amid travel restrictions and a spike in coronavirus cases in the US state.

The airline was due to operate flights between Heathrow and the popular family destination on July 20, but this has been delayed by more than a month.

It said in a statement released on Monday that the route was now scheduled to reopen on August 24 but warned even this is subject to approval by US public health body the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC currently limits the airports to which international flights can land in the US, and Orlando is not among the 15 currently approved.

Florida has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent days, with more than 4,000 – its highest total of the pandemic so far – reported on Saturday.

Virgin Atlantic has also delayed the resumption of its flights between London and Shanghai, China from July 21 until August 4.

Other destinations being served by the carrier from August include Barbados; Tel Aviv, Israel; Miami, Florida; and Lagos, Nigeria.

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

The only London airport the airline will use once it restarts its operations on July 20 will be Heathrow, after it pulled out of Gatwick.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “As countries around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, we look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to many destinations across our network.

“From July 20 we are planning to resume some services and then from August 1 onwards we will resume passenger flying to 17 additional destinations around the world including Tel Aviv, Miami, Lagos and San Francisco.

“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 UK Government to continually review its quarantine measures and instead look at a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, including air bridges, which will support a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.”

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