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Virgin Atlantic to Resume Shanghai for First Time Since 2020

Shanghai will be the last destination to return to Virgin Atlantic's global network following the pandemic once flights resume from London Heathrow in May

by Fergus Cole

February 6, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Kin Li / Unsplash

Virgin Atlantic will be returning to Shanghai this year for the first time since late 2020 as China begins opening up to tourism.

The daily service between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Shanghai (PVG) will resume at the beginning of May, reconnecting the U.K. to the East Asian financial hub after years of restrictions. Before the pandemic, Shanghai welcomed millions of foreign visitors each year, many of whom traveled there on business or corporate ventures.

However, since early 2020, China has imposed some of the world’s most rigid COVID-19 restrictions. Until recently, all foreign visitors had essentially been barred from entering China, but with the majority of restrictions now being lifted, many international airlines worldwide are resuming their services.

Photo: Courtesy of Boeing Commercial Airplanes

And now, Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it will be resuming flights to Shanghai, the final destination to be restored to the carrier’s network following the mass suspensions of 2020.

“The return of our Shanghai services has been a long-time coming, and I’m delighted it’s finally a reality,” said Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our customers back on board and providing vital links to one of the U.K.’s largest trading partners for both passenger and cargo services.

Virgin will operate the route with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has a total capacity of 264 passengers across three cabin classes, which includes 31 Upper Class suites, 35 Premium seats, and the remaining 198 seats in Economy Class. Seats in Economy are split into three categories: Economy Delight, Economy Classic, and Economy Light.

From May 1, Virgin Atlantic will resume a daily service between London Heathrow (LHR) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG). The outbound trip—flight VS50—will depart London at 2:15 p.m. each day, landing in Shanghai 12 hours and 40 minutes later at 9:55 a.m. local time. The return journey—flight VS251—is scheduled to depart Shanghai at 11:50 a.m. each day, touching down at Heathrow at 7:30 p.m. after a 14-hour and 40-minute journey.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, London Heathrow / Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Jarvinen added that Shanghai is Virgin’s final route to return following the global pandemic, restoring the airline’s flying program to full capacity. “Our focus for 2023 is on delivery, as we look forward to launching routes to new destinations, welcoming brand new clean, green aircraft and getting back to our best for our customers and people.”

Tickets are now on sale on Virgin Atlantic’s website, with fares starting at just £669 ($805) each way. However, although most COVID restrictions have been lifted passengers, some requirements remain. This includes showing a negative PCR test result when flying in either direction, although proof of vaccination is no longer required.

From Shanghai, passengers can make hundreds of connections to destinations across China and beyond into Asia. Shanghai also serves as a central hub for China Eastern, a major Chinese carrier and a SkyTeam member, along with Virgin Atlantic.