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Saturday, April 1, 2023

BA, Virgin Return to Mainland China

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British Airways and Virgin Atlantic on Thursday each announced the resumption of flights to mainland China, which had been paused since 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

BA starting on April 23 again will fly between London Heathrow and Shanghai Pudong, and on June 3 will resume flights between Heathrow and Beijing Daxing, according to the carrier. The Shanghai flights will operate daily, while the Beijing flights will operate four times weekly. Both routes are available for purchase.

Virgin Atlantic on May 1 will resume its daily route between London Heathrow and Shanghai. It is the carrier’s final route to be reinstated following the global pandemic, according to Virgin Atlantic. The route will operate on Boeing 787-9 aircraft with three cabins.

RELATED: Covid, Red Tape, High Prices Challenge China’s Great Reopening

Since China relaxed its Covid-19 restriction policies, global carriers have been resuming service to the country. Mabrian, a tourism intelligence company, on Thursday released a ranking of the European capitals that have resumed flights to China, based on flight schedules as of Jan. 23. 

Planned 2023 direct service from Budapest, Lisbon and Warsaw to China compared with 2019 has increased by 138 percent, 107 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in terms of the number of flights scheduled. Direct scheduled Athens flights are down 38 percent from 2019 levels, while such service from Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Khabarovsk, London, Minsk and Munich each are down 50 percent to 63 percent. 

Lagging are Madrid, Paris and Rome, with about 10 percent to 28 percent of 2019 flight frequency scheduled in 2023. Mabrian said the reason for this might be the large volume of flights that were registered in 2019, and that it may “take a while to recover.”

As of mid-January, of the three largest U.S. carriers, Delta Air Lines planned to resume flights to China in March, while American Airlines planned to resume them in October. United had not yet committed to a schedule at that time.

RELATED: Delta Confirms China Flight Resumption in March

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