Virgin Atlantic To Resume Passenger Flights From 20 July

Virgin Atlantic is to resume passenger flights on a small number of routes from 20 July 2020.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Virgin Atlantic is to resume passenger flights at London Heathrow from Monday 20 July 2020.

Since late April, Virgin has suspended all passenger operations, operating cargo-only flights.

Virgin will reinstate passenger flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and Orlando from 20 July 2020.

Flights to Los Angeles, New York JFK and Shanghai will resume from Tuesday 21 July 2020.

At the time of publication flights, except Orlando, have been loaded on to the Virgin Atlantic website. Schedules indicate flights to Los Angeles will operate twice daily and flights to New York JFK will operate 4-5 daily. This does seem high for the restart of operations.

Virgin plans to reinstate more routes in August and these will be announced over the next two weeks. The airline expects to reinstate routes gradually throughout 2020 and into 2021 as demand for air travel returns. This will depend a large part on the lifting of travel restrictions and the impact of the UK’s mandatory quarantine regime on arriving passengers.

Virgin Atlantic has relocated to London Heathrow Terminal 2, due to temporary closure of Terminal 3.

In common with other airlines, passengers are asked to maintain social distancing throughout the airport and to scan their own boarding pass at the aircraft gate. Face masks are also required at London Heathrow and on board aircraft.

Virgin’s in-flight service has been reduced with a streamlined meal service and only soft drinks. Full details of these measures are available from Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow Route Network

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed its London route network after the consolidation of flights at London Heathrow.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Virgin Atlantic has confirmed its planned route network at London Heathrow following its decision to suspend flights at London Gatwick for the foreseeable future.

The airline plans to gradually resume services throughout 2020 with a view to restoring a full flying programme in the summer of 2021.

The following routes will remain at London Heathrow:

Atlanta, Boston, Cape Town (winter seasonal), Delhi, Havana, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Mumbai, New York JFK, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Washington Dulles.

Virgin has previously suspended Newark and dropped plans to launch Sao Paulo.

Delta, Virgin’s transatlantic joint-business partner, has not confirmed when it plans to resume services from London Heathrow.

The following former Gatwick routes will operate at London Heathrow from Sunday 28 March 2021:

Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Montego Bay, Orlando.

Virgin has previously suspended St Lucia.

Note that at the time of publication, Virgin is still selling these destinations on its website from Gatwick. It is likely that these destinations will be allocated new flight numbers when they transfer to Heathrow.

Virgin has not confirmed exact frequencies for its Heathrow schedule, other than that Tel Aviv will increase to twice daily.

Virgin Atlantic is currently operating from London Heathrow Terminal 2. No date has been set for its return to Terminal 3.

Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow Route Network”

Virgin Atlantic Unveils Radical Restructuring

Virgin Atlantic has outlined plans for a radical restructuring as it seeks to secure Government support.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 Aircraft
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 Aircraft (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled plans for a radical restructuring as it seeks to secure Government support for a state backed loan.

The airline is in consultation with its trade unions on job cuts of up to 3,150 staff, which is almost a third of its workforce.

Virgin Leaves London Gatwick

Virgin will consolidate its London operations at London Heathrow for the foreseeable future.

The airline has already temporarily transferred operations from Gatwick, where it used to operate routes such as Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Montego Bay and Orlando, to Heathrow.

The airline had already planned to transfer its service to Havana to Heathrow in June. St Lucia was also due to be suspended in June.

Virgin was due to reinstate a service New York JFK at Gatwick this summer, which will now not happen. Passengers with bookings from Gatwick will be contacted in the coming days with their new flight details.

Virgin plans to lease its slots at Gatwick to enable a return to the airport. Though, with Norwegian also temporarily leaving the airport until 2021 and uncertainty over BA’s presence at the airport, it will be difficult to find airlines willing to operate them.

The departure of Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick is symbolic as it was of course where it launched its first flight to Newark in 1984.

At Heathrow, where the airline has temporarily transferred flights to Terminal 2, Virgin has suspended Newark and cancelled plans to launch Sao Paulo. At present, a planned winter seasonal service to Cape Town is still due to go ahead.

Fleet

Virgin Atlantic will immediately retire its last seven remaining Boeing 747 aircraft.

It will also retire four Airbus A330-200 aircraft by early 2022. Virgin accelerated the retirement of its last three Airbus A340 aircraft earlier this year.

Virgin has not made any comment on plans for the delivery of its remaining Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, which were all due to be delivered by 2021.

The airline remains in discussions with the UK government about state support which could include a loan and a credit guarantee to prevent credit companies from withholding funds. Virgin is also in discussion with third party investors to secure additional finance. Delta, which owns 49% of the airline, says it is unable to provide any financial support.

According to leaked comments from the Treasury, it did not consider Virgin Atlantic’s business plans for the next 2-5 years to be realistic. These deep capacity cuts, along with some form of contribution from its two shareholders, should assist in making a case for state support.

Virgin Atlantic Transfers Flights From Gatwick To Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily transfer all remaining flights from London Gatwick to London Heathrow airport.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily transfer what few remaining flights operate from London Gatwick to London Heathrow airport.

This will take effect for outbound flights from Tuesday 24 March 2020.

The last outbound flights from London Gatwick operated today, Monday 23 March.

On Tuesday 24 March, the last inbound flights will arrive at London Gatwick. These are VS90 from Grenada and St Lucia and VS34 from Antigua.

On Tuesday 24 March, flight VS147 to Havana (formerly VS63 when operated at Gatwick) and VS133 to Antigua (formerly VS33 when operated at Gatwick) will operate from London Heathrow.

A number of destinations Virgin Atlantic ordinarily serves from Gatwick, such as Orlando, are suspended due to travel restrictions.

As Virgin is currently operating a severely limited schedule until the end of April, this arrangement is likely to continue for some weeks at least.

There has been a recent trend for Virgin to transfer routes from Gatwick to Heathrow. Havana was due to transfer Heathrow in June 2020 and Las Vegas was transferred last year. Other routes such as Cancun and St Lucia have been suspended.

If the medium to long term impact of Coronavirus does lead to a significant fall in demand for air travel, the transfer from Gatwick to Heathrow could well become permanent. Should Norwegian permanently withdraw from Gatwick and BA follow Virgin, this would be very damaging to the airport.

Virgin Atlantic Closes Clubhouse Lounges

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily close all of its Clubhouse lounges.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily close all of its Clubhouse lounges.

Upper Class passengers and eligible members of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and partner airline programmes will no longer be able to access these lounges.

Virgin’s lounges at Boston, Johannesburg, London Gatwick, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington Dulles are closed.  

The lounge at Newark has also closed permanently due to the suspension of the route.

At London Heathrow, the Upper Class Wing and Revivals Lounge has closed.

Services in the Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 are reduced with no deli bar, salon & spa or shoe shine service.  The bar and the brasserie will remain open. The lounge will close temporarily from Monday 30 March 2020.

The New York JFK Clubhouse lounge will also remain open, but with reduced services.

Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic Closes Clubhouse Lounges”

Virgin Atlantic Cuts Lounge Services

Virgin Atlantic is to reduce its lounge services for Upper Class passengers until 1 June 2020.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to reduce its lounge services for Upper Class passengers, and eligible members of the Virgin Flying Club and partner airline programmes.

At London Heathrow, the “Revivals” lounge for arriving passengers will close entirely from Thursday 19 March.

The Clubhouse lounge at Terminal 3 will remain open but with reduced staffing.  The deli counter will be closed and shoe shine services will not be offered.  The spa and salon will also close from Monday 23 March.

The current plan is for services to return to normal on Monday 1 June 2020.

However, given how quickly events are moving with Coronavirus, nothing than can be ruled out.  

No airline is expecting a return to normal schedules for many months, if at all this year.

Virgin is currently operating a significantly reduced schedule and expects to have 85% of its aircraft grounded in April. Given the scale of this reduction, a number of lounges outside of London will inevitably close temporarily.

On a lounge related note, American Express has announced that all of its Centurion lounges worldwide will close temporarily from Saturday 21 April 2020.

Virgin Atlantic Extends Status For Flying Club Members

Virgin Atlantic is to provide Silver & Gold members of the Flying Club with a six month extension to their membership year.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has offered Silver and Gold members of its Flying Club frequent flyer programme a six month extension to their frequent flyer status.

In addition, the expiry date of vouchers such as Clubhouse and upgrade vouchers will also be extended. These changes should take effect by Friday 20 March 2020.

Virgin Atlantic has advised of the changes as follows:

Frequent Flyer Status Extension

We will be extending the status of all our Silver and Gold Flying Club members by 6 months, so that your status is protected during this difficult period. For example, this means that if your original membership year was due to expire on 30 April 2020, the new expiry date will be 31 October 2020. 

This means you will now have 18 months to earn the tier points you need to maintain your current status or achieve new status: 400 tier points need to be earned during the 18 month Extended Membership Year for Silver status to be maintained for another 12 months and 1000 tier points need to be earned during the 18 month Extended Membership Year for Gold status to be maintained for another 12 months.  

We will not be sending out new membership cards for this extension period, but your Extended Membership Year will be viewable online in your Flying Club account. Additionally, your digital membership card can be viewed and printed online or downloaded via the Virgin Atlantic app.   

For Gold members whose account renews automatically every year the Extended Membership Year will not be applicable. The normal renewal benefits will be awarded at the end of the 12 month membership year instead of the Extended Membership Year.

Your account will be updated on our internal systems by Friday 20 March 2020.

Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic Extends Status For Flying Club Members”

Virgin Atlantic Suspends London Heathrow – Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily suspend its route from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv until 1 April 2020.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Logo
Virgin Atlantic Logo (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic is to temporarily suspend its route from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv.

This is due to entry requirements imposed by Israeli authorities on arriving passengers, which include flights from the UK.

The last outbound flight, under number VS453, will operate on Wednesday 10 March 2020.

The last inbound flight, under number VS454, will operate on Thursday 11 March 2020.

Flights are currently scheduled to resume from London Heathrow on Wednesday 1 April 2020. However, this may change.

Passengers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to a refund. Alternatively, passengers can rebook for travel up to Wednesday 30 September 2020.

Affected passengers can find contact details for Virgin Atlantic here.

At the time of publication, British Airways services from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv are still scheduled to operate. However, this may change imminently.

Update Wednesday 11 March 2020: BA has cancelled one of its daily flights Tel Aviv (BA163 / BA162). Flights BA165 & BA164 continue to operate.

Virgin Atlantic Postpones Launch Of Heathrow – São Paulo

Virgin Atlantic has postponed the launch new of its new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo to Monday 5 October 2020.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

São Paulo, Brazil

Virgin Atlantic is to postpone the launch of its new route from London Heathrow to São Paulo.

Virgin was due to launch a new daily service to São Paulo Guarulhos international airport on Sunday 29 March 2020.  

However, this has now been delayed until Monday 5 October 2020.

The airline has cited the uncertainty caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the reason for the delay.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Virgin should also the opportunity to rebook to a later date, or a rerouting via its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta Air Lines.

There is no doubt that the current situation facing all airlines is now very serious, with significantly reduced demand.  

With so many events being cancelled and organisations banning international travel, there is very little that can be done to stimulate demand.

Virgin has followed many other airlines in waiving change fees for new flights booked up to Tuesday 31 March 2020 for travel up Wednesday 30 September 2020. 

Update Saturday 18 April 2020:

Virgin has now cancelled its planned launch of Sao Paulo entirely.

Virgin Atlantic Ends Free Upper Class Ground Transfers

Virgin Atlantic is to withdraw complimentary ground transfers for all Upper Class passengers booking flights from 1 July 2020.

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Upper Class Cabin (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

For the entirety of Virgin Atlantic’s existence a signature part of the Upper Class experience has been a complimentary transfer to and from the airport.

It has featured prominently in Virgin’s advertising.

Virgin also has a dedicated Upper Class Wing Check-in area at London Heathrow Terminal 3 for passengers arriving by car.

Complimentary transfers are currently available for any Upper Class passengers booking tickets in J, C and D booking classes.

It encompasses a complimentary chauffeur car to and from the airport and, for those passengers travelling to/from London airports, the additional choice of a complimentary limo bike or Gatwick/Heathrow Express tickets.

Virgin Atlantic has now decided to withdraw all complimentary ground transfers for Upper Class passengers who book flights from Wednesday 1 July 2020.

Passengers can still choose to purchase a car transfer service through Virgin Atlantic, as those passengers who are not eligible for a complimentary transfer can do at the moment.

For the avoidance of doubt, all existing bookings will be honoured. As will any eligible bookings made up to 1 July 2020. The Upper Class Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 3 will continue to operate.

Virgin has cited evolving customer needs and the fact that of the 20% of Upper Class passengers who are eligible for a complimentary transfer, only 50% take advantage of it.

Virgin has also cited the desire to provide a consistent experience with its transatlantic joint business partners Air France, Delta and KLM.

Undoubtedly, cost is also a factor.  It also has to be said that with increasing environmental scrutiny of aviation, complimentary chauffeur transfers are out of step with the times.

At the time of publication the main page on the Virgin Atlantic website for car transfer services has not been updated.  However, you can read the latest guidance on the travel news section.