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/ .

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.

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.