Delta Air Lines is to launch a direct route from London Heathrow airport to Chicago O’Hare airport from Sunday 26 October 2014.
Although, ostensibly a new route, this is in effect a continuation of Virgin Atlantic’s (now Delta’s joint-venture partner across the atlantic) summer seasonal service to Chicago into the winter season.
Flight DL39 will depart London Heathrow at 9.30am and arrive in Chicago at 12.45pm. Flight DL40 will depart Chicago at 5.30pm and arrive in London Heathrow at 7.35am. The route will be operated by a Boeing 767 aircraft.
Chicago is a route Virgin Atlantic has struggled to make work year round on its own. Virgin Atlantic initially withdrew from the route after the events of 11 September 2001. The route then returned as a seasonal summer route in 2007. The route is currently served by an Airbus A340 aircraft.
The one disadvantage for Virgin Atlantic passengers is that premium economy will not be available on Delta’s flights.
Although a year round service will make this route more attractive to corporate customers, Delta and Virgin will face strong competition from United Airlines and American Airlines/British Airways which operate up to three and six direct flights a day from London Heathrow to Chicago respectively.
This route has been suspended by both Delta and Virgin Atlantic.