Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 19 February 2019

The latest developments in media and technology, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

“The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley” (Image Credit: HBO)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

“Fake it till you make it”

HBO investigates Theranos, a once multi-billion dollar healthcare company, founded by the charismatic Elizabeth Holmes.

“Move fast and break things” has long been the mantra of Silicon Valley. It’s not such a wise idea when it comes to people’s health.

Thermos had promised to revolutionise healthcare with a proprietary blood testing kit that was not only more effective and considerably cheaper than its alternatives. The company had high profile backers, including Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison. Holmes was feted as the Steve Jobs of healthcare.

There was one small problem. It simply didn’t work. The entire product was an artifice. Not only that, its products put patients health at risk. The company is now worthless. Its founder is due to stand trial, charged with defrauding investors, doctors and patients.

“The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley” documentary premieres next month on HBO in the US. There’s no date set yet for broadcast in the UK.

Also of note this week:

Apple is expected to launch a new video streaming service featuring original content this autumn. (Variety)

Apple may announce the new service at a press event at its Apple Park campus on 25 March, where it is also expected to unveil details of its news subscription service. (Buzzfeed)

It has also been reported that Apple has hired Sam Jadallah to revamp its smart home business to compete against Amazon and Google. (CNBC)

Facebook under fire again in the UK is also negotiating a multi-billion dollar fine with the US Government for privacy lapses. (Washington Post)

This Time with Alan Partridge. A Q&A. (BBC)

Our weekly Travel Media & Technology Bulletin is published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail us at mail [at] londonairtravel.com

BA Unveils Its Retro BOAC Boeing 747 Livery

British Airways has unveiled the first of its retro aircraft liveries to mark its centenary year.

London Air Travel

British Airways Boeing 747 in BOAC Livery, Dublin Airport
British Airways Boeing 747 in BOAC Livery, Dublin Airport (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has officially unveiled the first of its retrospective aircraft liveries to mark its centenary year.

One of its Boeing 747s, aircraft registration G-BYGC, has been painted in a BOAC livery.

British Overseas Airways Corporation, BOAC, was one of the two immediate predecessor airlines to BA. It merged with British European Airlines, BEA, before the formation of BA in 1974.

BOAC first operated Boeing 747-136 flights from London to New York JFK in April 1971. BA subsequently ordered Boeing 747-236 and 747-436 aircraft, and the latter were delivered up to 1999.

BA, together with BOAC, British Airtours and British Caledonian, have operated over 100 Boeing 747 aircraft in total, with a peak of 81 aircraft in service by the late 1990s. It is second only to Japan Airlines as the largest operator of passenger Boeing 747 aircraft in the world.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first time BA has unveiled a retro BOAC livery. One former BOAC Boeing 747 had a brief retro livery on one side of the aircraft immediately before its retirement.

There’s no way of predicting exactly on which routes this aircraft will operate. However, as a 86 Club World seat aircraft, it will regularly operate on routes such as Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Lagos, New York JFK, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco. It will fly to New York JFK as flight BA117 on Tuesday 19 February.

This aircraft will retain this livery until its retirement, which is currently planned for 2023, but may well change.

Continue reading “BA Unveils Its Retro BOAC Boeing 747 Livery”

Monday Briefing – 18 February 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Flybmi aircraft
Flybmi aircraft (Image Credit: Fly bmi)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing of the year for the week beginning 18 February 2019.

Flybmi

The shakedown in European aviation continues with the closure of Flybmi.

It’s hard not to envisage European airlines inexorably set on a path to anything other than consolidation into Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group and Lufthansa, with easyJet and Ryanair as the dominant low cost airlines.

For bmi, this means that nothing remains of the brand when it was sold by Lufthansa to IAG in 2012. The low cost unit bmibaby was shut down. At Heathrow, BA wasted little time in suspending a large number of former bmi routes such as Addis Ababa and Damascus. Just a very small number of former bmi routes such as Amman, Beirut, Belfast and Hanover remain part of the BA route network.

Attention will inevitably be focused on Flybe in the coming months. The sale of Flybe’s operating companies to the Connect Airways consortium has a long stop date of this coming Thursday 22 February.

2 Engines 4 Long-Haul

20 years or so ago when the main preoccupation of Virgin Atlantic was hurling brickbats at its larger rival, it daubed “4 Engines 4 Long-Haul” on the side of its aircraft.

The jibe was made in response to BA’s decision to not order any further Boeing 747 aircraft and to turn to the twin-engined Boeing 777-200 for its long-haul fleet.

History has proved otherwise with the formal closure of the A380 programme last week.

Before the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 came into service, there were two competing visions. Larger aircraft to carry ever increasing numbers of passengers between major hubs and smaller “hub-busting” aircraft to open up new non-stop routes.

It was the later vision that won. For major trunk routes like London – New York for BA, and London – Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific, airlines prioritise offering higher frequencies for competitive advantage. Airlines also covet being the sole operator of new routes to achieve pricing power, which BA has done extensively to North America with the Boeing 787 and Qantas wants to do with non-stop flights between London and Australia.

It’s worth recalling just how ludicrous some of the claims made about the Airbus A380, dubbed a “flying hotel” before launch, were. Virgin Atlantic, which ordered 6 of the aircraft with great fanfare – even taking potshots at BA for not having yet ordered it – promised children’s play areas, games arcades, gyms, meeting rooms, and shops.

IAG is due to announce its annual results next Thursday 28 February. IAG CEO Willie Walsh will inevitably be asked about the impact of the closure of the A380 programme on BA’s fleet renewal plans.

New Istanbul Airport

BA has confirmed it will begin flying from London Heathrow to New Istanbul Airport from Sunday 3 March 2019.

The last flights to Istanbul Ataturak will operate on Thursday 28 February. No BA flights will operate between Heathrow and Istanbul on Friday 1 & Saturday 2 March. Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a refund or re-accommodation on alternative dates.

BA’s Retro BOAC Livery Unveiled Today

BA officially unveils the first of its retro liveries for its centenary year today.

One of its Boeing 747s, aircraft registration G-BYGC, has been reprinted in Dublin over the past ten days or so. Here’s what it looked like on arrival in Dublin:

British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC arrives at a paint bay at Dublin Airport before being resprayed with a BOAC livery.
British Airways Boeing 747 G-BYGC arrives at a paint bay at Dublin Airport before being resprayed with a BOAC livery. (Image Credit: British Airways)

Official press shots are being taken in Dublin before the aircraft heads to Heathrow this morning and these should be available shortly.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 18 February 2019”

Flybmi Suspends Operations

Flybmi, formerly known as bmi regional, has suspended operations with immediate effect.

London Air Travel

Flybmi aircraft
Flybmi aircraft (Image Credit: Fly bmi)

Flybmi, formerly known as bmi regional, has suspended operations with immediate effect.

The following statement was published on its website shortly after 18:30 GMT on Saturday 16 February 2019.

Press Release: 16 February 2019

British Midland Regional Limited, the East Midlands-based airline which operates as flybmi, has today announced that it has ceased operations and is filing for administration.

Flybmi operates 17 regional jet aircraft on routes to 25 European cities.

All flights have been cancelled with effect from today. Customers who booked directly with flybmi should contact their payment card issuer to obtain a refund for flights which have not yet taken place. Customers who have booked flybmi flights via a travel agent or one of flybmi’s codeshare partner airlines are recommended to contact their agent or airline for details of options available to them. Customers who have travel insurance should contact their travel insurance provider to find out if they are eligible to claim for cancelled flights and the procedure for doing so.

A spokesperson for flybmi said:

“It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement today. The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU’s recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme. These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit. Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and lack of confidence around bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe. Additionally, our situation mirrors wider difficulties in the regional airline industry which have been well documented.

“Against this background, it has become impossible for the airline’s shareholders to continue their extensive programme of funding into the business, despite investment totalling over £40m in the last six years. We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option open to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable.

“Our employees have worked extremely hard over the last few years and we would like to thank them for their dedication to the company, as well as all our loyal customers who have flown with us over the last 6 years.”

Bmi Regional employed a total of 376 employees based in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.

Flybmi operated a fleet of Embraer 135 and 145 aircraft. It operated just one schedule route from London, Stansted to Derry. It also had a larger presence at UK regional airports, notably Bristol, as well as Newcastle and Aberdeen.

The airline was formerly a subsidiary of bmi British Midland. It was sold to private investors in 2012 when bmi was acquired by International Airlines Group from Lufthansa.

The operating company, British Midland Regional Ltd, is ultimately owned by Airline Investments Ltd. This company also owns Loganair which is not affected by this news.

This, along with the acquisition of Flybe by the Connect Airways consortium, is not good news for many UK regional airports. It points to considerable weakness in the market for point-to-point regional jet services. It does also mean the final end of the bmi name.

At the time of writing there hasn’t been a response from the Civil Aviation Authority. However, guidance should be available shortly in its website.

For passengers who have purchased flights that have been cancelled, the best advice is to contact your credit company for a refund. Rival airlines may also announce “rescue fares” in the coming days. A full list of FAQs has also been published at the foot of the Flybmi website.

Update 23:30 GMT Saturday 16 February

The Civil Aviation Authority has provided general guidance for passengers on its website.

Eastern Airways confirmed on its Twitter feed that its Flybe franchise service between Norwich and Aberdeen (which was operated with Flybmi aircraft) is not affected by today’s news and continues as normal with alternative aircraft.

Update 17:00 GMT Sunday 17 February

British Airways is offering special fares for Flybmi passengers who need to return home.

Fares are available between London and Aberdeen, Belfast, Billund, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Newcastle, and Oslo. These must be booked by telephoning BA directly and quoting your Flybmi booking reference.

These fares are available for travel up to Sunday 3 March 2019.

easyJet is offering a special fare between Bristol and Paris Charles de Gaulle for passengers who need to return home. This is available for booking up to Wednesday 27 February for travel up to Sunday 17 March 2019. Full details are available from easyJet.

Loganair has announced it is to takeover a number of former Flybmi routes:

Aberdeen to Bristol, Esberg and Oslo from Monday 4 March; Newcastle to Brussels and Stavanger from Monday 25 March. These will be available for booking at Loganair from Monday 18 February.

Update Monday 18 February

The accountancy firm BDO has been appointed administrators of Flybmi. Passengers should continue to follow guidance on the Flybmi website. Creditors and employees should follow guidance from BDO.

American Airlines London – Dallas Business Class

The introduction of the Boeing 777-300 prompted a radical step-change in American Airlines’ competitiveness on transatlantic routes, but will the airline be able to maintain it?

London Air Travel

American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

It wasn’t until long ago that, at least if you were based in the UK, when flying transatlantic you chose either BA or Virgin Atlantic.

They each covered the major gateways from Heathrow and differences between the two airlines were largely a matter of personal taste. You only ever countenanced a US airline if there was an exceptionally good fare.

A combination of financial restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and the launch of transatlantic joint-ventures led US airlines to raise their game.

In the case of American Airlines, a step change came with the introduction of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft six years ago. This operates from Heathrow on selected frequencies to Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK. It also operates one frequency to American’s biggest hub in Dallas Fort Worth, which is the subject of this review.

Pre-Departure

Check-in at a very quiet early morning Terminal 3 was swift.

For some reason American’s premium check-in desks are located separately in Zone B from its main check-in area. Fast track security was similarly quiet.

Arriving at the gate 40 minutes before departure, boarding was already well under way. There were no queues and it was straight on board the aircraft for an on-time take off.

The Cabin

This is a four class aircraft that has been retrofitted with premium economy.

The business class cabin is divided into a small “demi-cabin” of two rows behind First Class. Behind the galley is a much larger cabin of 11 rows. The cabin features Safran (formerly Zodiac) Aerospace’s “reverse herringbone” design where seats face inwards in a 1-2-1 configuration.

There are no bad seats in the cabin but, for reasons explained below, it’s best to be seated away from the galleys.

The Seat

There is no question that this is a superb business class seat.

American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat
American Airlines Boeing 777-300 Business Class Seat (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

There is plenty of room at the shoulder and at the foot. All the seat controls are intuitive and close to hand. There is ample storage in a personal vanity unit, and by your feet in the side of the seat and under the foot rest. At seat power is provided through a three pin plug and USB charging port. Whilst the seat does not offer complete privacy, it is more than enough. Only one awareness point is that the arm rest on the aisle side of the seat needs to be lowered for take off and landing.

You certainly couldn’t ask more for space to work on a day flight. It did make for a very comfortable flight. Even with a relatively long flight time of nearly ten hours, there was never any sense of the flight dragging.

Having previously flown on this aircraft on a night flight, only one minor quibble is that as your head is positioned towards the aisle when sleeping, you might find yourself easily disturbed by noise in the aisle.

In a potentially unpopular opinion, if an alternative aircraft such as the Airbus A380 was available for a night flight, I would choose this, even with an inferior seat, because the 777 is so noisy.

Continue reading “American Airlines London – Dallas Business Class”

Airbus To End A380 Production

Airbus has confirmed it is to end production of the A380 aircraft in 2021.

London Air Travel

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Airbus has officially confirmed that it is to end production of the Airbus A380 in 2021.

The announcement was made today, Thursday 14 February, as Airbus announced its financial results for 2018.

The Airbus A380 has been a presence at Heathrow for over ten years. It was on 18 March 2008, that Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 arrived at London Heathrow from Singapore Changi marking the beginning of scheduled A380 flights from London Heathrow.

Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Emirates and Qantas soon followed at London Heathrow. As did Etihad, Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Thai Airways, albeit with varying frequencies.

Emirates now operates up to 7 A380 flights from London Heathrow a day. It is is the largest operator of the A380 by some considerable margin.

Last year, it ordered 20 additional aircraft with options for 16 more. According to the Airbus order book for January 2019, Emirates had 109 A380s in service, with 53 aircraft to be delivered.

However, Emirates has now decided to reduce its order substantially by 39 aircraft in favour of 40 A330neo and 30 A350 aircraft.

Beyond Emirates, there has been little appetite to order more aircraft. Qantas officially confirmed last week that it will not exercise options to add to the existing 12 in its fleet. There has also been a notable lack of interest in second-hand aircraft.

Some airlines have also reduced A380 flights at Heathrow. Malaysian ended daily A380 flights last year, in favour of the Airbus A350. Qantas has switched one of its two A380 routes to a non-stop Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to Perth. Qantas is also studying next-generation twin-engine aircraft to fly non-stop from London to Sydney and Melbourne.

Whilst the A380 has been popular with passengers, efficiency rules and it seems clear that airlines see the future of long-haul travel is twin-engined.

British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow British Airways Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

This announcement by Airbus seems to have settled the perennial question of whether BA will order any more aircraft. It has 12 in its fleet, with options for 7 more. It’s clearly serving the airline well, with a year-round presence on routes such as Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Los Angeles. However, IAG CEO Willie Walsh has always insisted that the purchase price for new aircraft is too high. With production now due to end, there seems no prospect of an order.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 13 February 2019

A weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

TWA Hotel Rendering
TWA Hotel Rendering (Image Credit: TWA Hotel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 13 February 2019, our weekly update on transatlantic travel from Europe to North America.

TWA Hotel Opens For Booking

The much anticipated TWA Hotel at New York JFK will start accepting reservations from 07:00 GMT on Thursday 14 February.

Hotels at New York JFK are generally dismal and involve long waits for shuttle buses and an inevitable tour of all terminals on your return to the airport.

Given its convenience and proximity to the airport and the enduring fascination with America’s legacy airline brands like Braniff, Pan Am and TWA, it is likely to command high rates. The hotel’s pre-launch publicity makes much of the fact that it will evoke TWA’s heritage and the era of the jet-set, but with 500+ rooms it will have to avoid feeling like a bed factory.

European Commission Approves Air France-KLM stake in Virgin Atlantic

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it has approved Air France-KLM’s acquisition of a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic.

The announcement refers to plans to operate a combined transatlantic joint-venture, but this seems to be subject to a separate approval process. The US Department of Transportation also has to give regulatory approval to the new joint-venture, and JetBlue is demanding that further market investigative work is done first.

Virgin’s American Ambitions

On the subject of Virgin, the Financial Times has an extensive report on Virgin Group’s ambitions for the US.

When the major shareholders in Virgin America decided to sell the airline to Alaska Airlines, Sir Richard Branson could not hide his intense frustration. Apart from the loss of royalties for the use of the Virgin name, it did diminish its brand presence in the US. The Virgin brand has only really “worked” in major English speaking territories.

Virgin is rebuilding its presence with a second Virgin Hotel after Chicago opening in San Francisco this weekend. The Brightline is also due to become Virgin Trains USA this year. Will we see another Virgin America? Probably not.

American Airlines To Operate Heathrow-Phoenix Year Round

When American Airlines announced it was to operate its own flight from London Heathrow to Phoenix from Sunday 31 March 2019, it was initially to be a summer seasonal route. However, it will now operate year-round.

Also of note this week:

California Governor Gavin Newsom has given a “State of the State” speech in which he wants to roll back plans to build a high speed rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Governor proposes an alternative link between two Central Valley cities Bakerfield and Merced. (SFGate)

There is a deadline of midnight EST on Friday 15 February for Congress and President Trump to pass a new spending bill to avert another US Government Shutdown. The last shutdown caused significant disruption to security screening at airports and to damage to parks such as Joshua Tree National Park due to lack of staff. A bipartisan deal has been agreed by Congress but President Trump has to yet to approve it. (Washington Post)

Late Post Publication Updates

[Reserved for updates during the day.]

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 12 February 2019

The latest developments in media and technology, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

This Time With Alan Partridge
This Time With Alan Partridge (Image Credit: BBC)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

Alan Partridge Returns To The BBC

Nearly 25 years after his debut on BBC Television, Alan Partridge is to return to the BBC shortly on “This Time With Alan Partridge”.

Alan is a stand-in host on a weekday evening magazine show “This Time”, described as a heady mix of consumer affairs, current affairs, viewer interaction, highbrow interview and lightweight froth. Filming started a year ago, and the series is expected to air shortly. Felicity Montague will also reprise her role as Alan’s PA Lynn.

BBC Scotland

To make sense of the BBC’s programming strategy you have to understand it is largely concerned with the corporation’s political survival.

Before the last BBC licence fee settlement, faced with a hostile Tory Government, the BBC chose of its own volition to close down BBC3 as a linear broadcast TV channel.

Ostensibly, this because the future of TV was on-demand streaming, but in reality its budget had been slashed. As a consequence, the BBC significantly reduced its reach amongst 18-34 year olds – who are vital to its licence fee funded future.

Then, out of nowhere, the BBC found £30m to launch BBC Scotland. The channel launches on Sunday 24 February 2019 and will be available across the UK on the iPlayer and on Sky / Virgin Media. Meanwhile from Monday 4 March, BBC1 is to introduce a new slot to showcase BBC3 programming after a shortened News At Ten. (BBC)

Also of note this week:

The BBC is to revive cult children’s TV show Crackerjack. (Crackerjack)

LBC’s James O’Brien fighting Brexit, one caller at a time. (New York Times)

Sky’s Adam Boulton: Why I’ve spent 30 years at Sky News. (Sky)

Our weekly Travel Media & Technology Bulletin is published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail us at mail [at] londonairtravel.com

Monday Briefing – 11 February 2019

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow

Welcome to our Monday Briefing of the year for the week beginning 11 February 2019.

Virgin Atlantic

2019 is shaping up to be a significant year of change at Virgin Atlantic.

It’s a largely symbolic move, but when Virgin and Delta finally receive regulatory approval (subject to ongoing protests by JetBlue with eyes on slots in London) to combine their transatlantic joint-venture with Air France-KLM, Virgin Group will cede control of the airline – something Sir Richard Branson said he would never do.

Delta will become the single largest shareholder with its existing ownership of 49% of the airline, with Air France-KLM owning a 31% stake.

When Delta acquired its stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2012, this prompted a significant changes to its non-US route network at Heathrow.

And we’re starting to see signs of new changes. Yesterday, Virgin confirmed it will launch London Heathrow – Tel Aviv from September this year.

Like Virgin moving Las Vegas from Gatwick to Heathrow next month, this is likely to be driven by the need for better quality revenue on Delta and Virgin’s transatlantic routes at Heathrow.

When the combined transatlantic joint-venture launches, Virgin will not only benefit from joint-marketing by Air France-KLM, but also access to detailed passenger data on its traffic flows, so expect more changes.

SAS Launches Stansted – Copenhagen

If anyone was to compile a list of the top strategic failures of airlines, or warning signs of airlines in trouble, selling off Heathrow slots would be at the top.

The temptation is understandable. In 2008, keen to secure access to Heathrow in advance of EU – US Open Skies, Continental paid a record $209m for four slot pairs. It’s a relatively easy source of cash.

However, all the evidence points to the fact it never solves underlying problems. There is a long list of failed or still troubled airlines that sold off Heathrow slots (Alitalia, bmi British Midland, Cyprus Airways) but to no avail.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is to transfer one of its six daily return flights to Copenhagen from Heathrow to Stansted from Monday 8 April 2019. It’s not yet clear what will happen to the slot, or whether this is the start of a broader transfer. SAS still retains a substantial presence at Heathrow. However, the more it cuts its schedule, the less competitive it becomes against a rival with ample slots at Heathrow to respond.

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 11 February 2019”

Virgin Atlantic Launches London Heathrow – Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv from 25 September 2019.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv from Monday 25 September 2019.

Flights will operate daily and the route will be operated with an Airbus A330 aircraft.

It is relatively rare for Virgin to launch a route to a destination outside the US. Indeed, many non-US routes have been suspended in recent years in favour of increased flights to the US. Tel Aviv is also a destination already well served from London by BA, easyJet and El Al. However, this route is likely to have been chosen to pick up feeder traffic to Delta and Virgin flights to the US.

When Air France-KLM and Virgin combine their respective transatlantic joint-ventures with Delta, it will also benefit from joint-marketing by Air France and KLM.

Virgin Atlantic has not yet officially confirmed the schedule, but local media report an afternoon departure from London Heathrow and an early morning departure from Tel Aviv, subject to seasonal changes.

London Heathrow – Tel Aviv

At launch:

Flight VS453 Depart London Heathrow 13:30 – Arrive Tel Aviv 20:35
Flight VS454 Depart Tel Aviv 07:15 – Arrive London Heathrow 11:10

From Sunday 27 October 2019:

Flight VS453 Depart London Heathrow 16:00 – Arrive Tel Aviv 23:05
Flight VS454 Depart Tel Aviv 06:05 – Arrive London Heathrow 09:55

Flights go on sale at Virgin Atlantic from Monday 25 February 2019.