Virgin Atlantic has launched a new codeshare partnership with LATAM Airlines.
Virgin Atlantic has placed its code on LATAM flights between London Heathrow and Sao Paulo.
Virgin Atlantic passengers will also be able to connect to 12 destinations in Brazil. These are Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Goiania, Recife, Salvador, Florianopolis, Fortaleza, Vitoria and Londrina.
Virgin Atlantic has launched a new route from London Heathrow to Austin, Texas.
The airline will fly from London Heathrow to Austin–Bergstrom International Airport four times weekly from Wednesday 25 May 2022.
Flights will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. It’s not immediately clear whether the route initially operate on a summer seasonal basis or year round.
The route will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
This is Virgin’s first ever route to Texas and its first new route to the US in many years. It is even longer since Virgin launched a destination in the US that is not a hub of its transatlantic joint business partner Delta.
Virgin Atlantic is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to the Caribbean island of St Vincent from June 2021.
This will be the only direct service to the island from Europe. Virgin Atlantic will fly to St Vincent twice weekly. The island is served by Argyle International Airport.
Flights will operate twice weekly with Airbus A330-300 aircraft. As is par the course with new route announcements Virgin Atlantic, flights have not yet gone on sale. Nor has Virgin provided an indicative schedule. Flights should be on sale from Tuesday 24 November.
This move reflects, in part, a “pivot” to leisure traffic. Virgin’s official release alludes to relatively less stringent COVID-19 testing and quarantine restrictions in the Caribbean. Though, in truth, nobody knows what COVID-19 travel restrictions will be in place in six months’ time.
At present, all Virgin Atlantic flights are operating from London Heathrow Terminal 2. No date has been given for the reopening of Terminal 3. Based on current trends, this will be many months away.
Virgin Atlantic is to launch two new routes from London Heathrow to Lahore and Islamabad.
The flights will launch in December and will go on sale in September.
Virgin will fly from London Heathrow to Lahore four times weekly and to Islamabad three times weekly.
The airline has not confirmed exact details on aircraft and timings. Virgin will also fly from Manchester to Islamabad.
This decision is likely to be driven in part by the fact that the European Aviation Safety Agency has banned Pakistan International Airlines from flying to the European Common Aviation Area. Although, the Civil Aviation Authority has allowed Pakistan International Airlines to wet lease aircraft from other airlines.
Airlines are currently focused on routes that generate cash. A route such as this should provide sufficient passenger volumes from VFR (Visiting Friends & Relatives) traffic to be cash flow positive.
BA also flies from London Heathrow to Islamabad having returned to the city in 2019 after a gap of more than ten years. This will increase to five times weekly in September and daily in October. It would be surprising not to see a similar competitive response from BA.
Virgin Atlantic is to restart flying to more destinations at London Heathrow, with the aim of reinstating most of its London route network by the end of October 2020.
Virgin will restart scheduled passenger flights from Monday 20 July, flying from London Heathrow to Hong Kong. Los Angeles and New York JFK will follow on Tuesday 21 July.
The following Virgin Atlantic routes will be added in August:
Saturday 1 August – Barbados Tuesday 4 August – Shanghai Tuesday 18 August – Miami Sunday 23 August – Lagos
The following Virgin Atlantic routes will be added in September:
Tuesday 1 September – Delhi, Las Vegas, Mumbai, Seattle and Washington Dulles Sunday 6 September – Tel Aviv Tuesday 8 September – San Francisco Friday 14 September – Johannesburg Saturday 15 September – Atlanta
The following Virgin Atlantic routes will be added in October:
Thursday 1 October – Antigua, Boston Friday 2 October – Montego Bay, Grenada (via Antigua) Sunday 4 October – Tobago (via Antigua) Tuesday 6 October – Orlando
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 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 by 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.
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 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.