British Airways and Virgin Atlantic find their way back to China

British Airways planes on the tarmac at London’s Heathrow Airport on February 5, 2021 (AFP/Archives/Adrian DENNIS)

British airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announced Thursday to resume flights to mainland China, restarting routes they had deserted with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“After a two-year absence, British Airways is resuming flights between the UK and mainland China,” the company said in a statement, which comes on the heels of China’s decision to reopen its borders in December.

The first flight to Shanghai will take off from Heathrow Airport, the country’s main airport, on April 23, and the company will operate a daily service. Trips to Beijing will operate four times a week from June 3.

The company resumed flights to Hong Kong on December 5.

British Airways says it first flew to China in 1980, without interruption until the pandemic, which grounded air traffic for months.

The health restrictions that have long remained in force in China continued to disrupt flights to this country.

With the closure of borders, lifted only in early January, air passenger traffic between China and third countries was only growing at 5% of its pre-crisis levels at the end of 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association. (Iata).

Virgin Atlantic, for its part, announced that it would resume daily flights to Shanghai from May 1 “for the first time since December 23, 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic”, both for passenger and freight transport. , according to a press release.

On the other hand, the company had announced in October that it would not resume its link between London and Hong Kong, citing the prolonged closure of Russian airspace which lengthens travel times.

Air France had already indicated last week that it wanted to serve Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong once a day from July 1, a marked increase in rate compared to the current frequencies.

Currently, the French company serves Beijing once a week, Shanghai twice, then three times from Friday, and Hong Kong three times.

© 2023 AFP

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