Delta & Virgin Atlantic Gatwick – Boston & New York JFK

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Delta and Virgin Atlantic are to launch two new routes from London Gatwick to Boston and & New York from May 2020.

Virgin Atlantic will fly from Gatwick to New York JFK from Thursday 21 May 2020. Flights will be operated with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Delta will fly from Gatwick to Boston from Friday 22 May 2020. Flights will operated with Boeing 757 aircraft.

Both routes will operate daily. This is in fact a return to New York JFK for Virgin Atlantic at Gatwick as it served the route from September 1989 before it moved to London Heathrow in July 1991.

Heathrow Schedule Changes

Delta & Virgin Atlantic have also confirmed the following changes to joint-services from London Heathrow from Sunday 29 March 2020.

Delta will take over one of Virgin Atlantic’s six daily frequencies from Heathrow to New York JFK, increasing Delta’s flights to New York JFK to three times daily. Delta’s return flight from New York JFK will operate as a day flight, complementing Virgin’s existing day flight.

Virgin Atlantic will increase frequencies from Heathrow to Los Angeles and Seattle. Flights to Los Angeles will increase from 14 to 17 times weekly. Flights to Seattle will increase from 7 to 11 times weekly. Los Angeles will also be the second destination after New York JFK to be operated with the new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

All Delta flights between Heathrow and New York JFK and Boston will be fitted with refurbished Boeing 767-400 aircraft featuring its “Delta One” business class cabin and its new premium economy cabin, Delta Premium Select.

The times of the new flights are as follows:

Depart London Gatwick 10:30 – Arrive Boston 13:20
Depart Boston 21:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 08:45

Depart London Gatwick 12:55 – Arrive New York JFK 15:40
Depart New York JFK 19:30 – Arrive London Gatwick 07:50

Depart London Heathrow 07:30 – Arrive New York JFK 10:30
Depart New York JFK 10:15 – Arrive London Heathrow 22:25

Flights are not yet on sale, but should be shortly.

Air-France KLM, Delta & Virgin Atlantic Transatlantic Joint-Venture Approval

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

KLM, Air France, Delta, Virgin Atlantic Tailfins (Image Credit: Delta Air Lines)
KLM, Air France, Delta, Virgin Atlantic Tailfins (Image Credit: Delta Air Lines)

Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have received tentative approval from the US Department of Transportation to combine the two transatlantic joint-ventures between Delta and Air France-KLM and Delta and Virgin Atlantic into one.

There had been strong objections from JetBlue which is seeking access to London Heathrow and a number of other European airports.

The Department of Transportation largely dismissed these concerns, but acknowledged concerns about the joint-venture’s presence at Amsterdam Schipol airport.

The Department of Transportation proposes that the airlines report annually on the progress of their co-operation and provide a detailed self-assessment after five years.

The next stage is for interested parties to make submissions to the US Department of Transportation before it issues a final decision.

Regulatory approval has been a long time coming. At present, Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic only have a limited codesharing agreement. Once regulatory approval is granted, the two airlines will pursue much greater co-operation.

This is likely to involve co-ordination of schedules and routes, co-location at airports (including possibly London Heathrow) and full reciprocal frequent flyer recognition.

Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic may also pursue greater co-operation on flights outside North America where clearly Air France-KLM has a significantly greater presence:

Air France Long-Haul Network
Air France Long-Haul Network (Image Credit: Air France-KLM)
KLM Long-Haul Network
KLM Long-Haul Network (Image Credit: Air France-KLM)

When the combined joint-venture is implemented Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will also cede control of Virgin Atlantic by selling a 31% stake to Air France-KLM – a largely symbolic, but still historically significant move. This has already been approved by the European Commission and it will leave Delta as the single largest shareholder in Virgin Atlantic with a 49% stake.

Virgin Suspends St Lucia & Moves Havana To Heathrow

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

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

Virgin Atlantic has announced a series of network changes affecting routes to the Caribbean at London Gatwick.

These take effect from Monday 8 June 2020.

Virgin Atlantic’s route to Havana, currently twice weekly, will move from Gatwick to Heathrow.

Virgin will suspend services to St Lucia, currently three times weekly, after 21 years.

Flights from Gatwick to Antigua will increase from 3 to 4 times weekly. Flights to Grenada and Tobago that are currently routed through St Lucia will be routed through Antigua.

A revised timetable has not yet been released by Virgin.

With Virgin having suspended Cancun and already moved Las Vegas to Heathrow, this does leave it with a diminishing presence at Gatwick. Meanwhile Heathrow is growing with the planned return to Mumbai and launch of Sao Paulo.

Virgin Atlantic Orders 14 Airbus A330neo Aircraft

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330neo aircraft render
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330neo aircraft render (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has ordered 14 Airbus A330neo aircraft.

The announcement was made today, Monday 17 June 2019, at the Paris air show.

It is intended that the 14 Airbus A330-900 aircraft will be delivered to the airline from 2021. They will operate at Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester and will replace Virgin’s current fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft.

Eight of the aircraft will be owned by the airline. Six will be leased from a third party lessor. Virgin also has options for a further 6 aircraft. The aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines.

The Airbus A330-900 has a range of 7,200 nautical miles and is designed to accommodate 260-300 passengers.

Virgin Atlantic’s 49% shareholder Delta Air Lines has 35 of the aircraft on order.  The aircraft is currently in service at TAP Air Portugal, which will have 19 of the aircraft in its fleet by the end of this year. Other airlines to have placed significant orders include Air Asia X which will take delivery of its first aircraft later this month.

Virgin Atlantic Relaunches London Heathrow – Mumbai

London Air Travel » Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Virgin Atlantic is to return to Mumbai for the third time with the relaunch of flights from London Heathrow from Sunday 27 October 2019.

Virgin Atlantic and Mumbai has a long history.

Virgin first launched flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai following the liberalisation of services between the UK and India in 2005. This saw a number of airlines, such as bmi British Midland, enter the market and the route was suspended.

The route was launched again in 2012 with different timings in the hope of capturing connecting traffic to Virgin’s North America route network. It was suspended for a second time in 2015 as part of a wide-ranging reshaping of Virgin’s route network towards North American routes.

Since then, Virgin had relied on a codeshare with Jet Airways to serve Mumbai, and following its recent collapse Virgin has now reinstated the route.

This, together with the launch of Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo, does point to Virgin seeking to move beyond North American routes at London Heathrow. What may work in Virgin’s favour this time is a potential future codeshare partnership with Air France and KLM.

Flights will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft and will go on sale at Virgin Atlantic from Tuesday 28 May 2019.

London Heathrow – Mumbai

Depart London Heathrow 10:15 – Arrive Mumbai 00:40
Depart Mumbai 02:55 – Arrive London Heathrow 07:35