Virgin Atlantic has resumed passenger flights after a three-month hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The carrier returned with a service from Heathrow to Hong Kong today and is resuming flights to New York JFK and Los Angeles from Tuesday July 21.

Virgin, which last week secured a £1.2 billion bailout package, said it would add more routes back into its network as travel restrictions around the world start to relax and customer demand increases.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast this morning, vice president of sales Lee Haslett said 17 more routes would be back from August 1, including to the Caribbean, Canada and elsewhere in the US.

Since the outbreak of the virus, Virgin has flown 1,400 cargo flights and about 1,500 tons of PPE and worked in partnership with the government.

The airline said it has implemented “additional measures” to offer passengers peace of mind while flying, including “enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard” – those include electrostatic spraying of disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories before every flight.

Health Packs will be available for all customers including medical grade face masks, hand sanitizer and surface wipes.

Customers will be given more space onboard, with some seats marked as not available by pillows.

The airline will be offering a simplified hot food service in all cabins, which it says has been “redesigned to limit interaction” and prepared in a ‘Covid-safe, monitored environment’

Speaking on the Travel Weekly webcast Haslett, said: “It’s fantastic to welcome passengers back.”

Explaining how Virgin has increased its cargo carryings so it can reduce load factors, he added: “We are really focused on making sure that every flight that we do is a cash-positive flight.”

Haslett also explained that the passengers on board the first returning flights, to destinations where they must self-isolate for 14 days, were booked by “are a lot of people repositioning” rather than using the flights for holidays.

Chief customer officer Corneel Koster added: “We will always ensure that health and safety remain our number one priority, whilst keeping our signature Virgin spirit and I am proud of all our teams who have been working tirelessly to implement new measures and evolve our customer experience.

“We are looking forward to welcoming customers back onboard, taking them to the skies safely and in true Virgin Atlantic style.”