Virgin Atlantic cuts 500 jobs. But what happens next?

The big aviation story today has of course been the release of the Airports Commission report on the expansion of airport runway capacity in London and the South East.

A cynic might therefore wonder whether it was no coincidence that Virgin Atlantic chose to announce in the past 24 hours that it is to cut 500 jobs, all of which will be from back office roles.

A company choosing to make itself more efficient through reducing management and administrative posts isn’t in itself that noteworthy. Indeed, it’s been a fact of corporate life for many decades.

However, in the context of Virgin Atlantic a reduction of 500 posts is significant.
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Air Canada Rouge to launch London Gatwick – Toronto from 19 May 2016

Air Canada Rouge, the leisure subsidiary airline of Air Canada, is to launch summer seasonal flights from London Gatwick to Toronto Pearson airport from 19 May 2016.

Flights will operate up to 7 times weekly.

Air Canada Rouge also flies between Toronto and Manchester and Edinburgh on a summer seasonal basis.  Air Canada’s domestic rival WestJet also announced this month that it is to fly between London Gatwick and as yet unspecified destinations in Canada in summer 2016.

Air Canada Rouge flights will be operated by a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with 24 Premium rouge seats and 256 rouge seats.

Passengers travelling in the Premium rouge cabin have a lounge access at the airport, a complimentary checked baggage allowance, complimentary food and drink and free use of a tablet for in flight entertainment.

Passengers travelling in the main rouge cabin have complimentary food and drink and can download an app to watch in flight entertainment on their smartphone or tablet. There is no seat back in flight entertainment.

We have no direct experience of Air Canada Rouge but we would offer the observation that 280 seats is a very dense seating configuration for a Boeing 767.

Flights will be on sale at Fly Rouge from 2 July.

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Virgin Atlantic “Up In The Air” will premier on ITV, Tuesday 7 July, at 9pm

“Up In The Air”, the long-awaited three part behind the scenes documentary at Virgin Atlantic, will premier in the UK on ITV at 9pm Tuesday 7 July.

This follows recent behind the scenes series at Heathrow by both the BBC and ITV (“Airport Live” and “Britain’s Busiest Airport”) and “A Very British Airline”, a behind the scenes look at British Airways by the BBC.

The documentary will cover Virgin Atlantic’s quest to recover from four consecutive years of financial losses with the delivery of its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the airline’s 30th birthday celebrations and the recruitment of new cabin crew.

Full details are available from the ITV Press Office.

“Up In The Air” is produced for ITV by The Garden Productions.

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Cathay Pacific re-opens The Pier First Class lounge at Hong Kong International Airport

Cathay Pacific has long been known for its highly regarded portfolio of lounges at its hub at Hong Kong International airport.

These lounges comprise The Bridge, The Pier, The Wing, The Cabin and The Arrival.

The airline has today reopened the first class lounge at The Pier.

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WestJet launch transatlantic services to Canada from London Gatwick

Canadian airline WestJet has announced it is to launch transatlantic services to Canada from London Gatwick in 2016.

The airline has yet to confirm which routes will be served (though Toronto seems an obvious choice) or any scheduling, pricing and product information, other than to say flights will be operated by Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

This will be welcome news for London Gatwick which has lost a number of transatlantic airlines to Heathrow over the past few years.  It will undoubtedly use this as a case for a second runway at Gatwick.

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What happens at London Heathrow after Virgin Atlantic Little Red closes?

Virgin Atlantic’s “Little Red” flights from London Heathrow to Aberdeen and Edinburgh will end on Saturday 26 September 2015.

These flights were operated with slots forfeited by British Airways as a consequence of the takeover by its parent company, International Airlines Group, of bmi.

The trustee appointed to oversee the release of these slots did re-advertise them. The deadline for applications was 2 April 2015.

In the absence of any announcement to the contrary, we can only deduce that no bidder has come forward. This means that the slots will revert back to British Airways.

It also cannot be a co-incidence that BA has just announced an additional seven flights a week from Sunday 25 October 2015 to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam, Milan–Malpensa airport, Zurich, Geneva, Newcastle and Edinburgh. In addition, BA will add an additional four flights a week to Manchester.

Finally, it’s worth noting that holders of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles can redeem their miles for Virgin Little Red flights from 7,500 miles.

Flying Club members can also earn bonus miles on Little Red flights. There’s more on the Virgin Atlantic website..

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Emirates London Heathrow lounge closed for refurbishment until October 2015

Emirates’ lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 is currently closed for refurbishment until October 2015. The lounge closed on Monday 8 June.

In the meantime, eligible passengers can use the British Airways Galleries Lounge.

However, BA has said access to its lounge for Emirates passengers will not go beyond 12 October. The reason for this is that BA will begin to move some long-haul flights from Terminal 5 to 3 in October which will obviously increase demand for the lounge.

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