Virgin Atlantic to offer direct flights Edinburgh to Barbados and Orlando

Virgin Atlantic, the British premier carrier, has said earlier this month that it will set up a base in Edinburgh later this year, offering direct flights to Barbados and Orlando.

It’s the first time that Virgin Atlantic will operate international flights from the Scottish capital in its 37-year history. The flight to Barbados will be Scotland’s only direct service to the Caribbean and will launch on December 5, 2021. Flights to Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, will launch on March 30, 2022.

The new Caribbean flights will operate twice weekly on an Airbus A330, while the new Orlando flights will also be twice weekly, operating on an Airbus A330-200. The fares start from £419 and customers on the Barbados route will be able to choose to fly in one of three cabins on the A330.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘A premier city like Edinburgh deserves premier airlines and we are extremely excited to welcome our newest partner Virgin Atlantic to Scotland’s capital city.

‘To be able to deliver flights to Barbados, Scotland’s only direct route to the Caribbean, and Orlando is a fantastic boost to us as we prepare for the post-Covid recovery, and it is a huge show of confidence in Edinburgh Airport’s ability to deliver for passengers across the country.

‘We look forward to the new routes launching and watching passengers head off on the holiday of a lifetime from Edinburgh Airport with Virgin Atlantic.’

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘Commencing international flights from Edinburgh marks an exciting new chapter for Virgin Atlantic and we couldn’t be happier to be flying from a new home in Scotland. I know our teams are itching to show Edinburgh the Virgin Atlantic spirit and flair we’re famous for.

‘Our two new routes provide an array of holiday options to suit everyone. From family fun and the thrills of Orlando’s theme parks to the stunning beaches and chilled out vibes in Barbados, we’re confident there’s something to love for all of our Scottish customers.’

Virgin Atlantic will be joining its joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines, at its new home in Scotland. Delta currently flies to both New York and Boston from the Scottish capital, with additional partners Air France KLM operating services to both Paris and Amsterdam.

Virgin Atlantic launches new service to Bahamas and increases frequency to Barbados

Virgin Atlantic has announced new services to the Bahamas from London Heathrow this winter as well as increasing the frequency of its flights to Barbados.

As travel restrictions ease, the new services will serve the unmet demand from consumers looking for a relaxing holiday in the sunny Caribbean destination. With 16 major islands surrounded by the world’s clearest waters, the Bahamas is a popular destination with beautiful white sand beaches, sailing adventures, fishing and diving as well Exuma’s swimming pigs.

Virgin Atlantic will launch twice-weekly services from London Heathrow to Nassau commencing on November 20 on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft boasting 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 192 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats. Services will go on sale from August 11, 2021 with return Economy flights starting from £713 per person.

In addition, starting from October 31, Virgin Atlantic will increase its services to the island of Barbados. Flights from Manchester to Barbados will increase from three times a week to five times and from Heathrow, daily flights will increase to 11 times a week.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented, ‘We couldn’t be more excited to add the Bahamas to our ever-expanding portfolio of Caribbean destinations. We are seeing a real demand from our customers for luxury holidays in the sun with Brits keen to escape on their next adventure after a difficult year. With 16 islands surrounded by the world’s clearest water, the Bahamas offers the perfect escape for those travellers looking to either simply relax or explore a new corner of the world.

‘We’re currently flying to Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and Grenada and expect to restart Tobago and Havana, Cuba in the upcoming months. We look forward to launching new services to the Bahamas as well as the first direct service from Europe to St Vincent and the Grenadines in October 2021.

‘As we head into winter 2021, we look forward to expanding our Caribbean portfolio from six islands up to eight and we are incredibly excited to welcome customers on board flying to our destinations both old and new, heading off on holiday or travelling to visit loved ones.’

‘We are incredibly thrilled about Virgin Atlantic’s new, twice-weekly airlift services from London’s Heathrow Airport, which will allow travellers to opt for a direct flight to the capital of The Bahamas,’ said the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism & Aviation. ‘There is a growing demand amongst UK travellers seeking a tropical, Bahamian escape. We look forward to welcoming them to our beautiful shores to experience what makes our country a unique Caribbean destination unlike any other.’

Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic announces return of operations to London Heathrow

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic will resume operations at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 beginning on July 15.

Terminal 3 has been closed for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On resuming operations, Delta will offer nonstop service between Heathrow and Atlanta and New York via John F. Kennedy International Airport. However, U.S. entry restrictions for non-essential travellers from the U.K. still apply.

Currently, Virgin Atlantic destinations such as Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and Israel are all classified as ‘Green’ on the U.K. government’s travel list, and travellers will not need to quarantine upon their return to Great Britain.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer of Delta, said: ‘We’re delighted to finally be back on our home turf and I know our teams can’t wait to warmly welcome our customers to Terminal 3, as they return to the skies in style, as they fly safe and well with Virgin Atlantic.

‘Whilst it’s a constructive step that many of our customers can imminently enjoy our much-loved facilities, the Government still needs to recognize the US as a ‘Green’ destination. Whilst travel between the UK and US is closed, £23 million in economic value each day is restricted. We urge the UK Government to move the US to the UK’s ‘Green list’ and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers.’

‘Moving back to our home in Terminal 3 will allow our customers to once again enjoy the award-winning experience they have missed during the pandemic,’ Nadia Clinton, Delta’s Regional Sales Manager, said in a statement. ‘Our modelling studies conducted with Mayo Clinic put the risk of transmission on a plane traveling between the U.K. and U.S. at 1 in 1 million meaning customers can travel safely. Coupled with the high vaccination rates in both countries, we implore the U.K. Government and Biden Administration to allow non-essential travel to resume.’

With the return of Delta and Virgin Atlantic to London Heathrow, Clubhouse, Revivals lounge and Upper Class Wing will reopen, offering complimentary a la carte menus including five-star dining, smaller tapas dishes, meats and cheeses from the deli and afternoon tea.

Virgin Atlantic announces flight services to Pakistan from London Heathrow and Manchester

Virgin Atlantic has said that it is launching flights to Pakistan from London Heathrow and Manchester.

Subject to applicable regulatory approvals, the UK airline will fly three new routes from London Heathrow to Lahore, London Heathrow to Islamabad, as well as from Manchester to Islamabad. The new services will operate on one of Virgin Atlantic’s newest, most fuel efficient aircraft, the 787-9, boasting 31 Upper Class suites, 35 Premium and 192 Economy seats. The flights are on sale now with return Economy fares starting from £504 per person, Premium from £756 and Upper Class from £1,986.

The new services include Manchester to Islamabad operated four times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday) starting on December 10 2020, with return economy fares starting from £562 per person, Premium from £779, and Upper Class from £2,051; London Heathrow to Lahore, operated four times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday) starting on December 13 2020, with return economy fares start from £519 per person, Premium from £756 and Upper Class from £1,986; and London Heathrow to Islamabad, operated three times a week (Mon, Wed, Sat) starting on December 12, 2020, with return economy fares start from £504 per person, Premium from £756 and Upper Class from £1,986.

These new services will open up over 290,000 seats between the UK and Pakistan annually while also offering connections for customers travelling from destinations throughout North America, including New York JFK, Los Angeles, Washington, Boston and San Francisco via London Heathrow onwards to Pakistan. Connections from European destinations will also be available through code-share and interline partners.

Virgin Atlantic to resume passenger flights to 17 additional destinations

Virgin Atlantic has said that it is planning to restart passenger flights to 17 additional destinations from August 2020.

The airline recently announced that flights from London Heathrow are expected to resume from July 20. Virgin Atlantic has now announced more detailed plans that will see passengers flying again to many destinations across its network.

Virgin Atlantic plans to resume flights from London Heathrow to: Hong Kong on July 20, New York on July 21, Los Angeles on July 21, Barbados on August 1, Shanghai and San Francisco on August 4, Tel Aviv on August 9, Miami on August 18, Lagos on August 23 and Atlanta on August 25.

Virgin Atlantic has decided to delay the restart of its flights to Orlando, which will now resume from London Heathrow and Manchester on August 24. Seasonal services from Glasgow and Belfast to Orlando will resume for selected dates in summer 2021.

The airline said that it is also planning to restart flights from London Heathrow to Washington, Seattle, Las Vegas, Mumbai, Delhi and Johannesburg during September 2020. Flights from London Heathrow to Boston, Montego Bay, Antigua, Grenada and Tobago are planned to restart during October 2020. This is when flights from Manchester to Barbados will also return.

Virgin Atlantic has announced additional measures to ensure safety during travel. These include thorough cleaning practices at all stages of travelling, adherence to safe distancing wherever possible and the use of face masks for all passengers and cabin crew. The airline recently revealed a new personal Health Pack that every customer will receive onboard a Virgin Atlantic aircraft.

Summer holidays to return? – Virgin Atlantic announces flying programme

Virgin Atlantic has announced its flying programme for summer 2021 with services operating from London Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.

As countries start to lift travel restrictions and demand for travel has surfaced, Virgin Atlantic will steadily increase passenger flying in the second half of the year, with further gradual recovery through 2021.

Virgin Atlantic will operate flights to 24 destinations from London Heathrow during summer 2021, including Barbados, Delhi, Havana, Las Vegas, New York JFK and Orlando. It will also increase the recently launched route to Tel Aviv to twice daily. The airline will continue to operate flights from Manchester Airport, flying to Atlanta, Orlando, New York JFK, Barbados and Los Angeles during summer 2021. Seasonal flights from Glasgow and Belfast to Orland will also be offered.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and flying them safely to their favourite destinations. We have taken the opportunity to pause, reflect and reshape our 2021 flying programme looking at efficiencies in our fleet and connectivity across our network, to ensure it is fit for the future, flying to the destinations we know our customers love to fly.

‘We’re delighted that our popular Tel Aviv service, which launched in September 2019, will now increase to double daily, whilst regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast will continue to play an important part in offering choice to customers and connecting UK travellers to Orlando, Barbados, New York and Los Angeles.’

The 2021 schedule will be operated using a modern fleet of wide-body, twin-engine aircraft comprising of A330-300s, 787-9s, A350-1000s, as well as A330-200s before they retire in early 2022 as planned, the airline said.

Virgin Atlantic’s flights for summer 2021 will begin on March 28, 2021, and will be on sale from May 16, 2020.

Virgin Atlantic announces plans to optimise network, to leave Gatwick Airport

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans optimise its network, in response to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, including the travel and aviation industry.

Accordingly, Virgin Atlantic said that it will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations. It will shift its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at London Gatwick, so it can return in line with customer demand.

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘We have weathered many storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none has been as devastating as Covid-19 and the associated loss of life and livelihood for so many.

‘However, to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.

‘Our vision for Virgin Atlantic remains the same – to become the most loved travel company, for our people and our customers. Once the crisis stabilises, Virgin Atlantic has an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s economic recovery, providing essential connectivity and competition.’

In response to Virgin Atlantic’s plans, a Gatwick spokesperson said: ‘We are very saddened to hear the news today about Virgin Atlantic’s plans. We have had a long, close and successful relationship with the airline since it made its maiden flight from Gatwick back in 1984. Virgin Atlantic will always be welcome at Gatwick and we will continue our efforts to explore ways to restart the airline’s operations as soon as possible, in the knowledge that they intend to retain their slot portfolio at Gatwick for when demand returns.

‘This news will be devastating for its staff and the many local businesses that supply and support the airline at the airport and its HQ in Crawley, however we will continue to work with Virgin Atlantic to get them flying again from Gatwick.

Further, Virgin Atlantic said that focusing on one powerful brand, Virgin Holidays will become Virgin Atlantic Holidays, while simplifying the brands for customers.

Virgin Atlantic carries crucial medical supplies for NHS to mitigate COVID-19

Virgin Atlantic has said that it has partnered with Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s foundation, and Virgin Care to fly a special charter flight from Shanghai to London, bringing in ventilators, essential medical supplies and PPE equipment on behalf of the Department of Health.

The Boeing 787-9 Virgin Atlantic plane is carrying over 350,000 items of essential PPE supplies and medical equipment including respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection. These essential items will support NHS staff working on the frontlines.

Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, commented: ‘We are incredibly grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing for the nation in extremely challenging circumstances, as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We’re pleased we can play a part in supporting them, by bringing crucial supplies in to the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.

‘Despite a decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo remains strong, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on a number of flights over the next few weeks, to bring in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients.’

Jean Oelwang, Founding CEO and President of Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of the Virgin Group, added: ‘Millions of first responders, nurses, doctors, hospital janitors and others are working tirelessly day and night on the frontlines of this crisis. They are true heroes in this crisis and we are humbled to have the opportunity to get this much needed equipment to them.’

Virgin Atlantic is one of several Virgin Group companies supporting the NHS in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline’s staff were approached to volunteer at several initiatives including the new NHS Nightingale field hospital, the London Ambulance Service, Epsom Hospital Carshalton and for the NHS Volunteer Responders.

Virgin Care, which partners with the NHS and Local Authorities, is working with colleagues from across the NHS in England, helping to free up hospital capacity and support people in their own homes. Over the past decade Virgin has invested more than £70m into Virgin Care to ensure it can continue to support the NHS.

Virgin Atlantic announces new summer programme from London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has announced a new flying programme for summer 2020 including a new second daily service to Delhi, a new weekly flight to San Francisco and the next routes to debut its brand new A350 aircraft.

The new service to Delhi will commence on March 29, 2020 and went on sale on Saturday 23, November. The flight will depart Heathrow in the morning, complementing the airline’s current evening departure. Together with Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic will offer onward connections between Delhi and New York JFK, Boston, Detroit and Atlanta via Heathrow.

The airline will also be re-timing its Mumbai flight to an evening departure from Heathrow, to suit business customers. With the additional daily flight to Delhi and the newly launched Mumbai service, Virgin Atlantic will offer more choice and flexibility for customers travelling to India.

Virgin Atlantic will also be adding a new weekly service to San Francisco, departing on a Friday. The airline will fly twice daily between Heathrow and the Golden Gate City, offering more options for both business and leisure travellers looking to enjoy an extended weekend to the West Coast. The airline will fly its brand new A350 on this route from May 2020 and, coupled with the new weekly flight, will boost capacity by 40,000 seats for the summer season.

By August, Virgin Atlantic’s A350 aircraft will fly to five destinations across its network and all its flights to Africa will be on the new aircraft. The next routes to debut the A350 aircraft from Summer 2020 include a new daily Johannesburg service from March 2020, a daily service to Los Angeles from April 2020, a daily service to San Francisco from May 2020, and a daily service to Lagos from August 2020

Juha Jarvinen, EVP Commercial at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘As we work to achieve our ambition to become the most loved travel company, we’re pleased to announce extra flights to some of our most popular destinations. Next year will mark twenty years since Virgin Atlantic started flying to Delhi, and the service continues to grow in popularity for both business and leisure travel. The second daily service from Heathrow is an excellent opportunity to meet customer demand on this route and, coupled with our new service to Mumbai, we’re able to offer even more choice and unrivalled Virgin Atlantic service to customers travelling between the UK and India.

‘We’re delighted to announce our flying programme for our brand new A350 aircraft, starting from next summer. We’re confident our customers will love to fly on this new aircraft and will enjoy the onboard experience of our newly redesigned cabins.’

Virgin Atlantic announces new route from London to Mumbai

Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of its new route from London Heathrow to Mumbai.

The new daily service linking the two cities will operate onboard the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with complimentary food and drink and over 300 hours of entertainment. Customers can also stay connected throughout their flight as all of the airline’s Dreamliners are fully Wi-Fi enabled.

Travellers will also be able to make connections between India and the US via London Heathrow. Together with partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic offers customers a choice of U.S. destinations. Co-located at Terminal Three, both airlines offer over 28 daily flights between London and the USA.

Juha Jarvinen, executive vice president of commercial at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘2019 marks a significant period of growth for Virgin Atlantic and I’m delighted that we’re expanding our route network by returning to Mumbai.

‘Along with our long-standing route to Delhi, we are now able to provide travellers with an increased offering to the thriving Indian market and an opportunity to experience our award winning service between the UK and India. Together with our partners at Delta, we offer an excellent choice of connections to the USA via Heathrow Airport.’

Dave Hodges, commercial manager for India at Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We are really excited to now have a daily flight serving Mumbai-London. Amidst the festive season in India, it is a special time to start the flight and we are confident that Mumbai is going to love the best of Bollywood entertainment and the best Indian food onboard our state of the art 787-9 Dreamliner.’

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its offering and Mumbai is the third new route announcement this year – following on from Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo. The new routes are available to book at https://www.virginatlantic.com/ .