Virgin Atlantic is set to restart flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg from October 18 and Heathrow to Cape Town from December 10.

The airline plans to operate four flights a week between Johannesburg and London Heathrow from October 19 and to increase to a daily frequency by the end of the year. Flight VS449 departs JNB at 20h35 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving in LHR Terminal 2 at 06h35 the following day.

The return flight, VS450 departs LHR at 21h50 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 21h50 arriving in JNB at 09h40 the following day.

The new Cape Town service starts from December 10 and will initially operate a limited schedule, still to be announced.

Both routes will, according to VS, provide seamless connections to New York JFK and will be operated by a B787-900 Dreamliner.

Liezl Gericke, Virgin Atlantic Head of Middle East, Africa and India, said: “We’re delighted to resume our passenger services to this beautiful country. We know many of our customers will be excited to reunite with friends and family and we are looking forward to welcoming them on board, taking to the skies safely in true Virgin Atlantic style.”

Liezl said the health and wellbeing of Virgin’s customers and crew remain the airline’s number-one priority. Anti-COVID hygiene measures include social distancing at the airport and on board wherever possible, meticulous cleaning of the aircraft and individual Health Packs for all customers, containing medical grade face masks, hand sanitiser and surface wipes. The airline says customers will be given additional space on board, some seats will not be available, and they will be marked with special pillows.  

A press release from the airline says a simplified hot food service will be offered in all cabins, redesigned to limit interaction, enclosed and controlled from preparation in a COVID-safe, monitored environment to the moment it is served. Economy and premium economy customers will now enjoy a ‘Fly safe, eat well’ meal box, which incorporates a choice of two hot meals, cheese and biscuits and a dessert pot, washed down with a choice of wine, beer, soft drinks and bottled water. 

Upper Class customers will have a choice of three hot meals, desserts, including cheese and biscuits and a ciabatta roll, all delivered to their seat on a tray. 

All customers will receive a second meal service which, on day flights from the UK, includes the delicious Mile High Tea in collaboration with celebrity pâtissier Eric Lanlard.

Virgin Atlantic will operate temporarily from Terminal 2 at Heathrow, due to the airport’s terminal consolidation, and will return to Terminal 3 when demand at the airport grows, enabling Terminal 3 to reopen.