Virgin to restart flights between London and Shanghai for the first time since Covid

Virgin Atlantic flights to Shanghai will be available from May 1  (PA Media)
Virgin Atlantic flights to Shanghai will be available from May 1 (PA Media)

Virgin Atlantic is selling flights between London Heathrow and Shanghai again after the route was paused for more than two years due to the Covid pandemic.

The airline has announced it will restart the flights between the capital and China on May 1 after suspending the route in December 2020.

Fares are starting at £699 and travellers to China will not need proof of vaccination, but they will need to show proof of a negative PCR test before entering the country.

Passengers bound for China will also need to produce a health declaration form. Passengers arriving from China into the UK must take a negative PCR or lateral flow test.

Shanghai is the final international route to return to Virgin’s services following the global pandemic.

Shanghai is a hub to Virgin’s new partner, China Eastern, so customers will be able to connect to onward services from the city.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming our customers back on board and providing vital links to one of the UK’s largest trading partners, for both passenger and cargo services.”

China is the final route added to the rest of Virgin Atlantic’s global network, including the US, Caribbean, South Africa, India and Pakistan.

The airline’s Tel Aviv service is set to double capacity this summer, and new routes to the Maldives and Turks and Caicos will also start later this year.

The company said the decision to bring back flights to Shanghai follows a relaxation of China’s travel restrictions, with borders reopened to foreign nationals for the first time since 2020.

China said on Monday that the Covid situation in the country was at a “low level”, and that fever clinic visits due to the coronavirus during the Lunar New Year dropped about 40 percent from before the week-long holiday.

Travel domestically as well as in and out of China during the holiday period rose sharply after Beijing abruptly abandonded an almost three-year zero-Covid policy in early December.

China’s sudden relaxation of restrictions was followed by a wave of infections across its 1.4 billion population. A prominent government scientist said that 80 per cent of people had already been infected in January.

The reinstated Shanghai flights come as Hong Kong unveiled a campaign that will include 500,000 free flights to lure visitors, businesses and investors back to the financial hub after more than three years of tough Covid curbs.

The “Hello Hong Kong” campaign launched on Thursday with leader John Lee saying it would show the city was open for tourism and was aimed at boosting business and investment in the Chinese special administrative region.

“Hong Kong is now connected to mainland China and the whole international world, and there will be no isolation, no quarantine and no restrictions on experiencing ... enjoying the hustle and bustle of Asia’s world city,” he said.