Beginning July 15, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic are set to resume services from their ‘home turf’ in Terminal 3 at London’s Heathrow Airport. The terminal has been closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two carriers have been operating from Terminal 2 in the interim.
Delta is currently operating nonstop services to Atlanta and New York JFK, though restrictions on non-essential travel from the UK to the US remain in place. Virgin Atlantic is also operating flights to ‘green’ list destinations such as Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and Israel.
According to an announcement from Heathrow, airlines will move into Terminal 3 in phases over the next few weeks. The airport’s website and social media channels will carry notices “to provide passengers with the correct terminal information ahead of their flights.”
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse will also reopen, welcoming Virgin Atlantic Upper Class customers and Flying Club Gold members as well as Delta’s eligible customers. Contactless options have been integrated into the system so customers can use QR codes at their seat to place an order from the à la carte menu. Guest will also be able to use a single-use printed menu and order from a waiter.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Clubhouse customers will not be able to use the roof terrace, seated bar stools, deli bar and pool table. Guests will also need to wear masks on entry and when moving around the area.
“With passenger demand expected to increase when ministers permit fully vaccinated passengers to travel more freely, Heathrow is getting ready to welcome you back,” according to Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye. “We have recommenced two runway operations, and will reopen Terminal 3 from 15th July when all services form Virgin Atlantic and Delta will resume in T3. We’ve invested in the latest technology and enhanced cleaning regimes to ensure you can fly safely from Heathrow this summer.”
The joint venture partners used this opportunity to once again call for the easing of restrictions for non-essential transatlantic travel.
“Given current vaccination rates, we know customers can travel safely between our two countries,” Nadia Clinton, Delta’s regional sales manager, said. “A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, coupled with robust air filtration systems and mask mandates on board, put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the UK and US at 1 in 1 million. We implore the UK and US Governments to allow non-essential travel to resume.”
The airlines also recently launched a digital health tool for transatlantic travel, which allows customers travelling in either direction between the US and UK to securely upload negative Covid-19 test certificates for upcoming flights.
Terminal 3 had previously been used as a dedicated facility for arrivals from ‘red list’ destinations, but passengers from these countries will now enter into the airport’s Terminal 4. The airport states that it does “not expect full passenger operations to resume in Terminal 4 this year”.