By John Flett
Virgin Atlantic Announces Return of Full Complement of US Destinations
Virgin Atlantic has announced that from April it will reinstate its full portfolio of destinations in the U.S. The return to a number of U.S. airports and an increase in frequency to others has been driven by a 50% increase in passenger demand from 2021 in light of relaxed travel restrictions.
“Following the relaxation of travel restrictions, we’ve seen demand increase to many of our global destinations, but particularly to our heartland in the USA. Our customers can’t wait to return,” Virgin Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen said in a statement.
The airline will increase services to New York, San Francisco and Atlanta in coming weeks and in April will add a third daily flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to Los Angeles. Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced that Austin, Texas would be its first new U.S. destination in seven years with a four-times weekly service beginning on May 25. The carrier will also be recommencing operations to Seattle and Washington D.C. as early as next week.
“The restart of our Seattle and Washington D.C. services mark an important milestone, as we move into recovery and welcome our customers back on board to all the destinations they’ve missed. We’re simply not Virgin without the Atlantic and our growing transatlantic portfolio demonstrates why we’re the airline of choice to the USA,” Jarvinen said.
The Seattle service will recommence on March 2 with five-times weekly service aboard Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. An Airbus A330 will operate between the U.K. and U.S. capitals five times per week from March 5. Both destinations have traditionally been associated with strong business travel passengers giving access to the tech and political hubs of the U.S. to British travelers.
Hopes and Concerns Lay Ahead
Leisure travellers will be well catered for by Virgin Atlantic’s announcement that the airline will be the U.K.’s leading operator to Orlando, Florida. The theme parks of Orlando will be receiving U.K. visitors from Virgin Atlantic’s four gateway cities of London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Aviation analysts have predicted that business travel would be slow to return after the impact of the pandemic so Virgin Atlantic’s announcement is a positive sign. However it is unknown how the developing situation in Europe involving Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may impede the resurgence of premium air travel.
To give passengers further confidence in booking travel Virgin Atlantic has extended its policy of unlimited free date and flight changes for new bookings for travel through the end of 2022. For those travelers who may need to change their new or existing bookings, the airline has also extended by eight months the time by which they can rebook new flights until the end of 2023.