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Virgin Atlantic has now published its flight schedules for the rest of November as the airline responds to the month-long lockdown that the British Government has imposed on England. With at most 14 routes operating between now and 2 December, Virgin Atlantic’s schedule has been pared to the bone.
Last Thursday, England went into its second lockdown of the year and it didn’t take long before we were given an indication that British Airways would be scaling back its services while the country is being urged to stay at home. On Friday, British Airways published a list of 46 routes that are being suspended in November and December and now this is Virgin Atlantic’s response (link .pdf):
Routes That Will Operate
The following routes will operate between 8 November and 2 December 2020.
- Atlanta – 2x/week
- Barbados/Antigua – 2x/week (flights will move days between 21 – 28 November)
- Boston – 2x/week (route only operating from 26 November)
- Delhi – 3x/week
- Hong Kong – 2x/week
- Johannesburg – 2x/week
- Lagos – 3x/week
- Los Angeles – 5x/week
- New York (JFK) – 7x/week
- Miami – 1x/week
- Montego Bay – 2x/week (no flights 11 – 23 November)
- Mumbai – 2x/week
- Shanghai – 2x/week
- Tel Aviv – 2x/week
If you compare the routes that Virgin says it will operate and that British Airways says it will be suspending it makes for interesting reading.
- British Airways has cancelled (or will be canceling) services to Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Kingston (Jamaica), and St Lucia, but Virgin Atlantic has chosen to continue to offer services to Antigua and Barbados as well as a limited service to Montego Bay.
- British Airways has cancelled its Tel Aviv service through 2 December but Virgin Atlantic’s service will continue to operate.
- Both airlines still seem to think that it’s worth operating multiple services to/from the United States despite the fact that…
- Most people in the UK are not allowed to travel except for work
- Most people in the UK are currently not allowed into the United States
- Most people in the US would have to quarantine for 14 days if they chose to travel to the UK.
On the whole, I’m surprised by some decisions and not surprised by others.
I’m surprised to see Virgin Atlantic continuing to operate services to/from the Caribbean because I can’t work out who will be taking these flights – these are almost entirely leisure routes so who’s flying on them while England is in lockdown?
I’m not surprised to see New York and Los Angeles continuing to get a lot of service from Virgin as it’s competing with British Airways on these routes and they’re considered key to the airline. The services into and out of Atlanta make sense because that’s the home of Virgin Atlantic’s US partner – Delta – but I’m not entirely sure I understand the reasoning for keeping the Hong Kong and Johannesburg routes open.
Between 8 November and 2 December 2020, Virgin Atlantic will operate no more than 37 flights/week to just 14 destinations. During some weeks, just 33 flights will operate. As if the crisis wasn’t already bad enough for Virgin Atlantic, it looks like England’s lockdown just made it even worse.