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Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet suspend in-flight alcohol service

Virgin Atlantic has removed alcohol onboard flights as part of a wider overhaul of its catering service it hopes will reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading between passengers.

Virgin Atlantic will temporarily remove alcohol from flights (Photo: Virgin Atlantic)

A spokesperson for the airline told the drinks business it will remove alcohol sales when some flights restart on 20 June, and will also offer onboard meals in a way that they “come straight from a controlled catering environment to our customer’s seat, reducing interaction.”

Virgin Atlantic told db the alcohol ban is a temporary measure and will be kept under review.

Virgin Atlantic will reopen five core flight routes on 20 and 21 June, months after the airline was forced to go into hibernation as coronavirus lockdowns brought international travel to a halt.

It will reopen routes from London Heathrow to New York, LA, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Orlando.

Passengers will all be supplied with their own PPE kit with medical grade masks, surface wipes and hand sanitiser. All customers and crew will be asked to wear their masks for the duration of the flight. Dedicated isolation areas will also be put in place on each flight for any customers or crew who may present symptoms while onboard.

Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer, Virgin Atlantic, said: “As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand slowly returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to their favourite destinations. To ensure the health and safety of our customers and our people, we’re introducing new measures at every point in the journey to offer peace of mind when taking to the skies with us.”

Budget airline Easyjet, which is resuming flights today (15 June), has also cut alcohol from its in-flight catering. Passengers will be limited to a glass of water, with food service also suspended. Customers, cabin and ground crew will be required to wear masks throughout their journey.

A spokesperson for Easyjet said the new measures “have been implemented in consultation with aviation authorities ICAO and EASA, and in line with relevant national authorities and medical advice through the airline’s chief medical adviser.”

British Airways will not suspend all alcohol sales, according to a spokesperson, but is also reworking its food and drink offer to reduce contact between passengers and crew, and alcohol will not be available to those flying in budget class (“Euro Traveller”).

The airline will roll out an “enhanced temporary catering proposition” from tomorrow (16 June), the spokesperson told db.

Customers travelling to a long haul destination will be offered pre-prepared meal boxes including dishes such as a salad, hot entrée or sandwich, and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Snacks will also be available between meals.

Customers travelling in Club or Business class will also be able to enjoy a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with a pre-prepared meal, and those travelling in economy will receive a complimentary snack and a bottle of water. BA’s hot towel service will not be available while the new measures are in place.

A BA spokesperson said: “As we navigate our way through these unprecedented times, we will continue to take advice from relevant authorities and incorporate this into the development of our on board experience.”

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