Virgin Atlantic says to restart some flights on July 20

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Atlantic's planes are seen parked at Manchester Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Manchester, Britain, May 9, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic said on Thursday it would restart some flights that have been grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic on July 20 and aimed to restore further services in August.

The airline said services to Orlando and Hong Kong from London Heathrow would resume on July 20, with flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Shanghai set to restart on July 21.

It hoped to announce more routes that could restart in August over the next two weeks.

“Our planned first flights will be to Orlando and Hong Kong on the 20th July, 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,” said Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic.

The airline has warned that Britain’s decision to introduce a quarantine for all international arrivals will hinder its return to flying.

Jarvinen said Virgin was calling for “carefully targeted public health and screening measures, which will allow for a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.”

The airline would enhance its cleaning practices at check-in and onboard, and would provide medical-grade face masks for passengers to wear onboard.

Virgin Atlantic did not provide an update on talks with private investors and the government on support for the airline to withstand the coronavirus crisis.

Founder Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic alongside U.S. airline Delta DAL.N with 49%, said in April the airline will only survive the impact of COVID-19 if it gets government support.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison