British Airways and Virgin Atlantic take off simultaneously at Heathrow. First transatlantic flights since Covid-19 closed borders in March 2020. Bosses of Virgin and BA said it was a ‘pivotal moment’ for the battered industry. Both airlines registered enormous losses and shed thousands of staff.

Vaccinated US visitors have been able to travel to Britain since the summer. 22 million people a year travelled between the two countries, along with 900,000 tonnes of cargo. Both airlines deeply damaged by the pandemic. BA’s owner, IAG, is expecting losses of €7.3bn over 2020 and 2021.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said: “Today is a time for celebration, not rivalry. The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic.” Both will fly A350 planes after retiring their least fuel-efficient jumbos.
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