Following the success of its May programme of cargo-only flight operations, for June Virgin Atlantic intends to increase its activity to 601 flights – an increase of 35% – partly enabled by the launch of new routes including Beijing and Brussels.
The 601 flights in June will comprise 597 cargo-only services and four repatriation flights for the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). As the airline continues to extend its network to support demand for export and import cargo as UK and international businesses continue their recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak, this month’s schedule highlights for customers include:
• The launch of daily flights connecting London Heathrow and Beijing
• Virgin Atlantic’s first-ever flights to Brussels, arriving from New York JFK before connecting directly to London twice a week
• Three flights a week to Chicago, starting on 4 June
• Increased Mumbai services to three a week, with UK departures every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 6 June
• Three-times weekly London-Atlanta flights from 9 June
• A return to Nigeria, with weekly Lagos flights to and from London
• Increase to daily flights to and from Hong Kong
The airline’s growing schedule means cargo customers now have access to direct cargo capacity connecting London, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Lagos, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Brussels. Kales Airline Services, Virgin’s general sales agency in Brussels, will market its increased direct capacity in Belgium.
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic said, “I want to personally thank all of our cargo customers who have supported our cargo-only flying. We’re proud to be increasing the number of frequencies and routes we can offer in June as international trade steps us its recovery and lockdowns are eased around the world. While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to restrict passenger flying, our cargo operation has never been more important both to our business and in keeping vital global supply chains running.”
In May, Virgin Atlantic operated 446 cargo-only flights, including 66 charters for customers, averaging 52 weekly departures from the UK. The airline carried 4.4 million kilos of cargo into the UK and 5.3 million kilos of exports, producing the highest monthly cargo revenues in the airline’s 36-year history.
The airline is also continuing to partner with the UK’s Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on 17 cargo charters per week for healthcare supplies from Shanghai and Beijing throughout June and July. To date, the airline has carried over 44 million items of PPE from China to the UK, including over 33 million isolation and medical masks, as well as millions of disposable aprons and gloves, and protective coveralls. Other PPE shipments to date include eye protection covers, ventilators, isolation gowns, injection and infusion pumps, and disposable samplers and swabs.
Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo added, “May was a historic month for our cargo business, which is a quite remarkable achievement given the current trading environment. As well as demonstrating our customers’ confidence in Virgin Atlantic, this is a tribute to everyone in the airline who remains so committed to maintaining our customer offering despite the uncertainties which persist in the market. June will see this offering grow again and we are hoping for similar customer support now we have proven the resilience of our cargo-only flying programme.”