Virgin Atlantic plans to increase flights from London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has said that it is planning to increase its flights at London Heathrow in an effort to challenge the dominance of IAG, which owns British Airways, at the airport.

The move is also in line with the government’s Aviation Strategy green paper which seeks to facilitate competition between airlines through the allocation of slots at Heathrow. This will offer customers more choice and lower fares, as well as enhanced domestic connectivity and connectivity to international destinations.

Currently IAG holds more than 55 per cent of all take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic said that it will compete on 26 routes where there is an IAG monopoly, including Accra in Ghana, Austin in the USA and Bogota in Colombia. The airline will increase its long haul route network and launch a new inclusive network of domestic and European routes when the airport expands. The plans include a significant increase of Virgin Atlantic’s current network, including flights to exciting destinations such as Kolkata, Jakarta and Panama City, where passengers are unable to fly non-stop currently.

In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long haul destinations – up from just 19 long haul destinations in 2020. Of the 84 new destinations planned, 12 are domestic – including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, 37 are European – including Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid, and 35 are global – including Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Santiago.

‘Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens of thousands of travellers,’ Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said. ‘Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.

‘Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier. This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world. Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive.’

Virgin Atlantic and Delta increases services between U.K. and United States

Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines have announced plans to increase flights between the U.K and U.S. from next summer, as Delta joins Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick Airport for the first time.

With the agreement, passenger capacity across the Atlantic has increased by nearly 10,000 seats per week over the last year, offering customers more choice and flexibility.

When flights begin on May 22, 2020, Gatwick will become Delta’s seventh trans-Atlantic destination served nonstop from Boston. A day before, Virgin Atlantic will launch a daily flight to New York-JFK from Gatwick. Together the airlines will offer up to four daily flights to three U.S. cities next summer.

‘We’re excited to return to London Gatwick, which is where we launched our first U.K. destination over 40 years ago as well as Manchester, and continue to grow our international network from Boston,’ said Roberto Ioriatti, Delta’s vice president Transatlantic. ‘Together with Virgin Atlantic, we are strengthening our presence in the northeast U.S. and in London, offering customers a greater choice of destinations combined with the excellent service they can expect from our airlines.’

Beginning March 29, 2020, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will increase capacity between New York-JFK and London Heathrow by 15 percent. Delta will increase its services to three daily services, with Virgin Atlantic operating five. This includes a daytime slot from JFK-Heathrow for the first time, operated by Delta, adding to the daytime Boston-Heathrow and JFK-Heathrow service currently offered by Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow – JFK flights will be the first route to operate the new A350 from September 2019.

Virgin Atlantic is also set to increase flights to important west coast hubs, as it increases services from Heathrow to Seattle from seven to 11 per week, while Los Angeles will also see services rise from 14 to 17 flights per week, with up to three services per day operating in the summer months.

Juha Jarvinen, EVP Commercial at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘Our announcement today marks another phase of growth, both for our transatlantic network and for our partnership with Delta.

Our increased services to Los Angeles and Seattle further cement our commitment to our west coast flights, which follow the introduction of our exceptionally popular Manchester – Los Angeles route that launched earlier this year.’

Further, Delta will return to Manchester, with a new peak-summer service to Boston effective May 21, 2020 replacing Virgin Atlantic’s current operation. Flights will increase from the current three per week to a daily service, offering an extra 45 percent capacity versus last year.

Manchester will be the eighth Transatlantic destination served nonstop by Delta from Boston, while flights to Atlanta, New York-JFK, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Orlando will continue to be operated by Virgin Atlantic. Together the airlines will offer a schedule of up to six daily flights to Manchester from six U.S. cities next summer.

Norwegian to end transatlantic flights between Ireland and North America in September

Norwegian has said that it is planning to end transatlantic flights between Ireland and North America from September 15, 2019.

Matthew Wood, SVP Long-Haul Commercial at Norwegian, said: ‘As the airline moves from growth to profitability, we have conducted a comprehensive review of our transatlantic operations between Ireland and North America and considering the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, we have concluded that these routes are no longer commercially viable.

‘We take a strict approach to route management and constantly evaluate route performance to ensure we meet customer demand. Compounded by the global grounding of the 737 MAX and the continued uncertainty of its return to service, this has led us to make the difficult decision to discontinue all six routes from Dublin, Cork and Shannon to the US and Canada from 15 September 2019.’

The move affects three transatlantic routes from Dublin: the four weekly flights to Providence, Rhode Island, daily flights to Newburgh, New York and three weekly flights to Hamilton, Ontario. Travellers holding tickets for travel to Dublin from the three airports after mid-September are eligible for a refund or rebooking on other Norwegian flights.

‘We are assisting customers by ensuring they can still get to their destination by rerouting them onto other Norwegian services. Customers will also be offered a full refund if they no longer wish to travel. We will continue to offer scheduled services from Dublin to Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen as normal,’ Wood added.

Norwegian carries almost six million UK passengers each year from London Gatwick, Edinburgh and Manchester Airports to 30 destinations worldwide.

Virgin Atlantic to relaunch London Heathrow- Mumbai service

Virgin Atlantic has recently announced plans to relaunch its flights between London Heathrow and Mumbai, India, with flights on sale starting tomorrow, May 28.

The daily service will be operated year-round with the first service commencing on October 27, 2019. The new service is in addition to the airline’s long established route between London and Delhi.

Juha Jarvinen, Executive Vice President, Commercial, at Virgin Atlantic, commented, ‘2019 marks a significant period of growth for Virgin Atlantic and I’m delighted that we’re continuing to expand our route network once more, by returning to Mumbai. Until recently we’ve been able to serve this important market through our partnership with Jet Airways, however, since Jet Airways has sadly suspended its operation, we now have an opportunity to provide alternative options for our customers and meet this demand.’

The Mumbai flights will be operated on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft, offering customers Upper Class (31), Premium (35) and Economy Light, Classic and Delight cabins (192).

Virgin Atlantic offers a full on board service in each of its cabins, featuring complimentary food, drink and over 300 hours of entertainment across films, TV and music channels. All of the airline’s 787-9 are fully Wi-Fi enabled, allowing customers to stay connected throughout their flight.

The new Mumbai flight is Virgin Atlantic’s 27th daily service from London Heathrow and its third new route announcement this year. Flights to Tel Aviv, Israel are set to commence in September 2019, with flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil starting in 2020, the airline said in a release.

Virgin Atlantic announces new service to Sao Paulo from Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will launch flights between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2020.

The daily service – the 11 hr 55 min flight – between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport is Virgin Atlantic’s first to the South American continent. Sao Paulo is the commercial capital of Brazil and one of the largest cities in the Americas for multinational companies to have offices, and will enable Virgin Atlantic to expand its offering to existing corporate customers.

The airline will operate a Boeing 787 aircraft boasting Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class, Premium and Economy Delight, Classic and Light offerings.

Flights to Sao Paulo are on sale later this year.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic executive vice president – Commercial, commented, ‘2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to become the most loved travel company. Sao Paulo represents an incredible opportunity for our business, and we’re very excited to be flying to a brand new continent for the first time. There are a significant number of corporate customers, and multi-national businesses, located in this Powerhouse of South America who can now enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this busy international route.’

‘But it’s not all about business – I’m also thrilled to introduce an exciting new destination to our leisure customers. Sao Paulo boasts numerous cultural institutions such as the Museu de Arte, has a rich architectural history, and acts as a gateway for leisure travel within the rest of Brazil and beyond. This is a prime opportunity for Virgin Holidays who are busy securing a range of ancillary partners and diverse accommodation options for those customers seeking a full-service holiday offering.’

Virgin Atlantic is set to become the founding member of a new, $13bn transatlantic joint venture with over 300 daily transatlantic flights and 96 non-stop transatlantic routes, alongside Delta, Air France and KLM as well as launching new services from London Heathrow to Las Vegas, Manchester to Los Angeles and London Heathrow to Tel Aviv.

Virgin Atlantic announces new service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to commence a new service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv, Israel with the first flight offered on September 25, 2019.

The airline will fly daily between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, and the five hour flight will operate on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Flights to Tel Aviv are on sale from February 25, 2019.

Offering over 180,000 seats each year, the new service will offer connections for customers connecting from Tel Aviv via London Heathrow to destinations throughout North America across both the Virgin Atlantic and Delta networks including New York, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, commented: ‘2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to achieve our ambition to become the most loved travel company. Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming and as one of the world’s leading tech hubs we’re anticipating many business travellers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK. We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US – Tel Aviv market, using the strength of our trans-Atlantic Joint Venture with Delta to offer customers from Tel Aviv a wide range of US destinations connecting through London Heathrow including New York and San Francisco.’

‘I’m also thrilled to introduce this new destination to our leisure customers and I know it’s somewhere they’ll love to visit. Renowned for its cultural sites and with UNESCO recognised architecture, Tel Aviv also boasts beautiful beaches, a buzzing artistic and nightlife scene, incredible food and is a great base to explore the tourist destinations of the region including the iconic historical city of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and the Dead Sea’.

Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director, IGTO for the UK and Ireland, added: ‘We’re thrilled with the launch of the new flights and Virgin Atlantic’s confidence in the Israeli product. The ‘Two Sunny Cities, One Break’ campaign has been very successful in showcasing Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and we’re proud of our continued commitment to working with the travel trade industry. We are looking forward to working together with the Virgin Group in order to promote Israel as a leading tourist destination.’

Virgin Atlantic is set to become the founding member of a new, USD13 billion transatlantic joint venture with over 300 daily transatlantic flights and 96 non-stop destinations, alongside Delta, Air France and KLM as well as launching new services from London Heathrow to Las Vegas and Manchester to Los Angeles.

Flybe partners with Virgin Atlantic to offer new destinations for Scottish travellers

Leading European regional airline Flybe has announced a partnership with Virgin Atlantic to offer Scottish travellers new flight services to international destinations including Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai.

Under the partnership, new Flybe flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh will connect customers onto Virgin Atlantic flights to the US, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In this connection, the two airlines have extended their codeshare agreement to include London Heathrow. The new Flybe codeshare flights to London Heathrow will operate starting March 26, offering four services per day from Edinburgh Airport, and up to three services per day from Aberdeen Airport.

Passengers will be able to book tickets to travel from Edinburgh and Aberdeen with Flybe, and connect onto Virgin Atlantic flights at London Heathrow. The agreement will allow passengers to connect between Flybe and Virgin Atlantic with a single check in and bag drop.

The new flights are now on sale at www.virginatlantic.com.

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘Our partnership with Flybe will bring the world a little closer to Scotland with exciting new Virgin Atlantic destinations available across the US, Asia, and Africa. The extended codeshare agreement builds on the partnership we announced last year which has proved popular with customers across the UK.

‘We look forward to offering easy connections to some of our most popular destinations such as the US cities of San Francisco and Boston, as well as helping to boost business and investment with access to major hubs such as Hong Kong and Dubai.’

Vincent Hodder, Flybe’s Chief Revenue Officer, added: ‘Flybe is especially delighted that this extension of our valued codeshare partnership with Virgin will enable us to better serve Scottish travellers and global visitors, further realising our ambition of being a ‘One Stop to the World’ for the UK regions.

‘We greatly look forward to cementing our commitment to Scotland and welcoming even more Virgin passengers on board our new Heathrow flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh when they start at the end of March.’

The new destinations on offer from Aberdeen and Edinburgh via London Heathrow include Los Angeles with fares starting from £498 return, San Francisco from £498 return, Boston from £398 return, Washington from £418 return and Hong Kong from £445 return, Flybe said.

Delta, Virgin Atlantic revise Summer 2017 schedule, offer new Portland- London service

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have announced changes to their respective summer 2017 schedules to optimise their joint network between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The move seeks to offer customers more travel choices and flexibility. In 2015, the JV connected almost 400,000 customers to over 200 destinations in the U.S., on around 550 routes.

As per the revised plan, Delta will commence a new four times a week service from Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow on May 26, 2017, the first between this U.S. West Coast city and London. 

Beginning March 26, 2017, the US-based airline will add a second Detroit to London Heathrow service, replacing Virgin Atlantic’s daily Detroit to London Heathrow service. The airline will also operate a third Atlanta to London Heathrow service, replacing the second daily service currently operated by Virgin Atlantic, beginning May 25, 2017. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate one daily Atlanta to London Heathrow service.

Beginning March 26, 2017, Virgin Atlantic will start flying between Seattle and London Heathrow, replacing the daily service currently operated by Delta. In addition, the UK-based airline will launch a daily nonstop service between New York-JFK and Manchester on May 25, 201, replacing the service currently operated by Delta. Delta will resume service for winter 2017.

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We are delighted to further optimize our joint services between the U.K. and the U.S. Our most fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft will add additional capacity to the successful Seattle route, enabling more customers to enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this brand new aircraft. In Manchester, deploying our Airbus A330-300 aircraft on this route will allow us to further meet the growing demand from the Manchester market, now offering a total of six direct flights to the U.S. after the recently announced new services to Boston and San Francisco. The network changes highlight the strength and flexibility of our joint venture, allowing us to make smart decisions that ensure the right aircraft are on the right routes for our customers.’

Commenting on the changes, Dwight James, Delta’s Senior Vice President Trans-Atlantic said: ‘Adding a brand new service to Portland while increasing the scale of Delta’s reach across our Atlanta and Detroit hubs provides a comprehensive network of nonstop and connecting destinations for both Delta and Virgin customers. The flexibility to adjust our operations on routes between the U.K. and the U.S. is a solid reflection of the cohesive strategy we have across the trans-Atlantic. Since 2014, we have been building a partnership that is centered around the needs of our customers while providing network synergies for our airlines.’

With the changes, starting March 26, 2017, the airlines’ joint summer 2017 schedule will feature a total of 42 peak daily nonstop flights between the U.S. and the U.K. Of these, 28 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington and 14 flights will operate between Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, London Gatwick and Edinburgh to popular U.S. cities, Delta said in a release.

Virgin Atlantic extends Glasgow-Orlando winter service

Leading British airline Virgin Atlantic will extend its Glasgow – Orlando service to meet high demand, according to a report by the Daily Record.

The airline said that it will add a new Friday flight to its winter 2016 schedule, which will offer more than 7,000 seats in the November 2016 to March 2017 winter season. Virgin Atlantic added that the new winter flights will serve alongside its three times a week summer service between Glasgow and Florida.

Commenting on the plan, Erik Varwijk, executive vice president of commercial at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘We’re delighted to be offering our customers more choice when flying to some of their favourite destinations.

‘Florida is enduringly popular with our customers, so it makes perfect sense to increase this service during the most popular months.’

Steven Marshall, marketing manager at Glasgow Airport, added: ‘This is fantastic news for Scottish travellers looking to get away to America’s sunshine state next winter from Scotland’s largest city.

‘It demonstrates the popularity of Virgin Atlantic’s existing Orlando summer service which has grown every year since it launched at Glasgow Airport in 2007. Indeed – a great announcement to start off the airport’s 50 anniversary year.’

The new service is part of Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture with Delta Air Lines, which seeks to expand the trans-Atlantic route network between the UK and North America.

Separately, the Mirror reported that Virgin Atlantic has cut its fuel surcharge by £20 following the drop in oil prices. The saving, on return flights, will apply to future bookings, it said.

The move comes after complaints that airlines have not been passing the drop in oil costs on to customers.

‘Although we buy our fuel months and years in advance – meaning that recent falls in the price of oil do not immediately impact costs – we have decided to, again, lower our fuel charge by £20 per return journey for customers. Overall, our prices have reduced by £70 per trip per person since fuel prices began to fall.’ Virgin.

Virgin Atlantic introduces 787-9 Dreamliner on Delhi-London route

British airline Virgin Atlantic is operating its 787-9 Dreamliner on the Delhi-London route – the first European carrier to operate the larger Boeing aircraft on this flight.

Virgin Atlantic operates seven daily flights every week from Delhi to London with many onward connections, including New York.

Passengers travelling on the maiden 787-9 Dreamliner flight to London from Delhi on March 31 were offered the chance to take a ‘First Flight Selfie’ whilst checking-in and boarding the flight from Delhi IGI airport. Virgin Atlantic has recently introduced the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie on its 787 aircraft, offering customers the opportunity to check in on Facebook and share their photos from 35,000 feet.

‘We’ve been serving and delighting our customers for 15 years from Delhi and the launch of the Dreamliner, with our latest cabin interiors, further demonstrates our commitment to India and enables us to build on the success of our Delhi route,’ Nick Parker, Head of India and Middle East for Virgin Atlantic said.

‘We know our Indian customers are going to love flying our Dreamliner. Every aspect has been meticulously designed to enhance their experience; not only seats and social spaces, inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi, but we’ve also invested in other areas that are so important to customers, including the onboard meal services. I’m delighted to confirm that we’ve increased the number of our fantastic local Indian crew on each flight, who along with our exceptional airport team, will deliver the personalised Virgin Atlantic service that our customers so love,’ he added.

The 787-9 Dreamliners are configured with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium Economy and 198 Economy seats. Features offered onboard include access to Wi-Fi connectivity, the latest in-flight entertainment, dynamic mood lighting and cabin windows 65 percent larger than the industry standard.