Category Archives: Virgin Atlantic Airways

Virgin Atlantic to launch new service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A330-343 G-VRAY (msn 1296) LHR (SPA). Image: 945652.

Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced it will be launching flights between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv, Israel with the first flight taking place on September 25, 2019.

Flying daily between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport, the five hour flight will operate on an Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

In 2019, Virgin Atlantic will welcome the first four of 12 Airbus A350-1000 to its fleet which not only boasts a totally redesigned on board experience for customers but will help transform the fleet into one of the quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky.

The airline also looks forward to becoming the founding member of a new, $13 billion transatlantic joint venture with over 300 daily transatlantic flights and 96 nonstop destinations, alongside Delta, Air France and KLM as well as launching new services from London Heathrow to Las Vegas and Manchester to Los Angeles.

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A330-343 G-VRAY (msn 1296) LHR (SPA). Image: 945652.

Virgin Atlantic aircraft slide show:



Delta and Virgin Atlantic launch self-service bag drop at London-Heathrow

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic are launching 18 self-service bag-drop units at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, saving customers valuable time at the airport through the use of intuitive technology.

Available on all Delta- and Virgin Atlantic-operated flights to the United States, the new self-service units have been rolled out following successful testing at London Heathrow. Through intuitive, easy-to-use technology, customers can drop their bags in under two minutes, giving them more time to enjoy Terminal 3’s lounges or many retail and restaurant outlets.

To take advantage of the new machines, customers need to check-in via one of Delta’s self-service channels and follow these simple steps:

  • Scan their mobile or printed boarding pass
  • Place their bag on the bag belt
  • Print their bag tag and attach it to the bag
  • Send the bag for loading

Bags are then accepted into the system and screened as they would be during the traditional bag drop process at the counter.

“The new machines are another way that Delta and Virgin Atlantic are working together to ease the journey through our London hub,” said Corneel Koster, Delta’s S.V.P. of Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. “With a quick and easy bag-drop experience, customers can choose how they enjoy that extra time before they fly.”

For further peace of mind, the self-service units support Delta’s pioneering RFID bag tracking technology by issuing RFID chipped bag tags. These synch to the Fly Delta app so customers can track their checked bags in real time.

Hayley Parker, Vice President of Airports at Virgin Atlantic, said: “We’re always looking at ways to improve the customer journey, and self-service bag drop is another example of how we’re making things easier for our customers. This new technology enables customers to breeze through the airport, while ensuring our team are still on hand to deliver personalised service and answer queries at all times.”

Virgin Atlantic relaunches its “Golden Ticket”

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

It’s bigger, it’s better, it’s golden-er. We’ve hidden 10 more Premium Golden Ticket fares in our ordinary flight search for the splendiferous price of £1 (plus the normal taxes, fees, charges and carrier imposed surcharges). So you could be off on your next adventure for even less than you imagined.

Just go ahead and carry out a flight search in the normal way. You’ll need to choose both the correct outbound and inbound dates to be a lucky winner.

Many wonderful surprises await in Premium, including a glass of fizz-whizzing bubbly as you board, an extra comfy leather seat and delicious eatables served on china crockery with proper cutlery.

Stay tuned, we’ll be releasing more Golden Tickets throughout the day.

Good luck to you all, and happy hunting!

Delta Cargo, Virgin Atlantic Cargo to drive long-term growth with move to new purpose-built facility at London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo are to move into the new purpose-built dnata City East, London Heathrow’s most state-of-the-art cargo facility. The move supports the airlines’ growing cargo businesses, enhances their trans-Atlantic partnership for customers, and future-proofs the joint venture’s position in the U.K. market by doubling the size of their cargo footprint at the airport.

Virgin and Delta’s cargo operations have been aligned under one roof in the U.K. since June 2016 and share cargo facilities at major U.S. gateways, notably Atlanta, Boston, Miami, New York, Orlando and Washington-Dulles with the objective to create an enhanced customer proposition on both sides of the Atlantic.

The move to the new facility – scheduled for the second half of 2019 – will ultimately increase the size of Virgin and Delta’s cargo operation at Heathrow to 335,000 square feet, and see customers benefit from greater automation and faster truck and cargo handling times.

The purpose-built facility will deliver the highest levels of service, security and automation. Inside the warehouse, investments in technology will enable staff using handheld devices to efficiently manage the flow of cargo, while the double-train ETV system will increase storage to 245 positions for pallets and containers. Customer trucks arriving at the facility will benefit from a new door management system, which enables drivers to complete paperwork at the gatehouse on arrival without leaving their vehicles and to then be immediately assigned to one of the facility’s 18 cargo doors.

The new location will also provide further benefits for customers choosing Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo services to move temperature-controlled healthcare and life science products as well as offering a dedicated perishables zone and an enlarged AVI centre for live animals.

Photo: Delta Air Lines.

Cash-strapped Flybe to be sold to a consortium including Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic Airways, will be rebranded

Flybe has announced it is being sold to a consortium involving Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Virgin Atlantic has a 30 percent interest in the consortium along with the Stobart Group. Stobart Air already operates flights under the Flybe brand.


This will be the end of the Flybe brand. The airline will be rebranded under the Virgin Atlantic brand.

Cyrus Capital Partners, a hedge fund, will control the remaining 40 percent share the consortium called Connect Airways.

Flybe issued this formal statement:

(a company jointly-owned by DLP Holdings S.à. r.l., Stobart Aviation Limited and Virgin Travel Group Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic Limited)


  • Following the announcement on November 14, 2018 and the launch of the Formal Sale Process with respect to Flybe, the Boards of Flybe and Connect Airways announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer for Flybe by Connect Airways pursuant to which Connect Airways will acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Flybe.
  • Under the terms of the Acquisition, Flybe Shareholders will be entitled to receive:

    one (1) pence in cash for each Flybe Share

    which values the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Flybe at approximately £2.2 million on the basis of the fully diluted share capital of 216,656,776 Flybe Shares.

  • Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have engaged with Flybe in a collaborative due diligence process since the commencement of the Formal Sale Process, and have formulated the Offer Price after careful review of the due diligence information, the capital needs of Flybe, the challenging trading environment and prevailing market conditions.
  • Concurrently with announcing the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have committed to make available a £20 million bridge loan facility to support Flybe’s ongoing working capital and operational requirements.
  • In addition, following completion of the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic are intending to provide up to £80 million of further funding to the Combined Group to invest in its business and support its growth, as well as a contribution of Stobart Air.
  • It is intended that the Acquisition will be effected by means of a Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement between Flybe and the Scheme Shareholders under Part 26 of the Companies Act.
  • The Acquisition is subject to a number of Conditions and further terms, including the approval of the Scheme by the Scheme Shareholders by the requisite majorities and the sanctioning of the Scheme by the Court. The Conditions are set out in full in Part A of Appendix 1 to this Announcement.

    Connect Airways

  • Connect Airways is a joint venture company the share capital of which is owned 40% by DLP Holdings, S.à. r.l., a company wholly-owned by funds managed by Cyrus, 30% by Stobart Aviation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stobart Group, and 30% by Virgin Travel Group Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited and Virgin Holidays Limited.
  • It is also expected that, immediately prior to completion of the Acquisition, Connect Airways will acquire Stobart Air, Stobart Group’s regional airline and aircraft leasing business. The combined group is expected to bring benefits to customers, suppliers and employees, providing stability in a tough trading environment.
  • Combined Group
    • Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic believe that combining Flybe and Stobart Air in a more integrated commercial cooperation with Virgin Atlantic’s long-haul operations will create a fully-fledged UK network carrier under the Virgin Atlantic brand, alongside Stobart Air’s wet lease operations and aircraft leasing business which will continue to operate as it does today.
    • Such a combination would be a compelling proposition with a comprehensive regional network in the UK and Ireland coupled with an enhanced European footprint, providing greater choice and connectivity for customers to travel to destinations all over the world.
    • The Acquisition will enable Flybe to benefit from committed strategic investment partners in terms of Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic (through Connect Airways) and from an enhanced presence at London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport with potential to grow further in London Southend Airport.
    • The Acquisition and combination with franchise airline, Stobart Air, will provide the Combined Group with an opportunity to increase passenger numbers at London Southend Airport, accelerating its growth for UK and European air travel.

      Recommendation and support for the offer

    • The Flybe Board, who have been advised by Evercore (who are providing independent financial advice to the Flybe Board for the purposes of Rule 3 of the Code) as to the financial terms of the Acquisition, considers the terms of the Acquisition to be fair and reasonable. In providing its financial advice to the Flybe Directors, Evercore has taken into account the commercial assessments of the Flybe Directors.
    • Accordingly, the Flybe Directors believe that the terms of the Acquisition are in the best interests of Flybe Shareholders as a whole and unanimously recommend that Flybe Shareholders vote in favour of the resolutions to be proposed at the Court Meeting and the Flybe General Meeting (or, in the event that the Acquisition is implemented by way of a Takeover Offer, to accept or procure the acceptance of such Takeover Offer).

This revised 2018 livery will be very short-lived (just one aircraft):

Virgin Atlantic issued this statement:


The Boards of Flybe and Connect Airways, a company bringing together Virgin Atlantic Limited, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital, are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer for Flybe. Following which Connect Airways will acquire the entire issued, and to be issued, share capital of Flybe. Stobart Group will contribute Stobart Air and Propius, Stobart’s aircraft leasing business into Connect Airways.

Concurrently with announcing the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic have committed to make available a £20 million bridge loan facility to support Flybe’s ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

In addition, following completion of the Acquisition, Cyrus, Stobart Group and Virgin Atlantic are intending to provide up to £80 million of further funding to the Combined Group to invest in its business and support its growth, as well as a contribution of Stobart Air.

Flybe will continue to serve customers and communities across the UK and Ireland. In due course Flybe will be rebranded to Virgin Atlantic.

The Combined Group will offer significant benefits for customers:

  • Deliver more choice to customers by linking UK regions and Ireland to Virgin Atlantic’s extensive long-haul network through improved connectivity at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow
  • Provide a strong foundation to secure the long-term future of Flybe, its customers and its people by leveraging the combined commercial, operational and functional expertise and scale of Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group
  • Utilise the strength of the Virgin Atlantic brand, and the offer of an enhanced customer experience in keeping with Virgin Atlantic’s heritage
  • Provide the Combined Group with an enhanced presence at Manchester Airport , London Heathrow Airport, with the potential to grow further in London Southend Airport

The Combined Group intends for Flybe to continue as an independent operating carrier with a separate UK Air Operator Certificate (AOC) under the Virgin Atlantic brand. Stobart Air is intended to continue under a separate Irish AOC.

The Combined Group will operate independently to Virgin Atlantic under one management team, owned 40% by Cyrus Capital Partners, 30% by Stobart Aviation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stobart Group, and 30% by Virgin Atlantic Limited, the holding company of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays.

Christine Ourmieres-Widener, Flybe’s CEO said:

“Flybe plays a vital role in the UK’s transport infrastructure with a UK regional network which uniquely positions it to benefit from growing demands from long haul carriers for passenger feeder traffic. We have successfully implemented a clear strategy in recent years focused on tighter fleet management, improving revenue per seat and increasing load factors. The pursuit of operational excellence has reduced maintenance times and increased efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

“However, the industry is suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and significant uncertainties presented by Brexit. We have been affected by all of these factors which has put pressure on short-term financial performance. At the same time, Flybe suffered from a number of legacy issues that are being addressed but are still adversely affecting cashflows.

“By combining to form a larger, stronger, group, we will be better placed to withstand these pressures. We aim to provide an even better service to our customers and secure the future for our people.”

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic said:

“The Virgin Atlantic brand is built on the foundation of putting customers at the heart of everything we do, providing them with the choice they deserve and a travel experience they love. All possible because of our amazing people.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital to bring Virgin Atlantic service excellence to Flybe’s customers. Together, we can provide greater connectivity to our extensive long haul network and that of our joint venture partners Delta Air Lines, at Manchester Airport and London Heathrow. In the near future, this will only increase, through our expanded joint venture partnership with Air France-KLM.”

Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group said:

“The Board of Stobart Group believes that bringing Stobart Air together with Flybe and partnering with Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital is the best way for us to play an active role in regional airline consolidation.

“The combined entity will be a powerful combination with sufficient scale to compete effectively in the UK and European airline markets. It will allow us to continue to work with Flybe and provides an excellent opportunity to continue to grow passenger numbers at London Southend Airport.”

Lucien Farrell, Partner of Cyrus said:

“We are delighted to be working once again with the Virgin Group following our successful partnership in the launch and eventual sale of Virgin America to Alaska Airlines. We believe Flybe’s strong market position and high quality management together with Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to the best customer experience and Stobart Group’s expertise in regional flying will produce a worldclass airline.

Virgin Atlantic: Our new Airbus A350: Building the wings in Wales

From the Virgin Atlantic blog:

By Dave Gunner

Building a passenger jet: the more you think about it, the more extraordinary it becomes.

Modern passenger aircraft are incredibly complex, super reliable and much quieter and more efficient than their predecessors. One of humankind and engineering’s greatest achievements. And as you’d expect, the process of building one of these giants of the sky is totally fascinating. This was brought home to me when I visited the Airbus factory in Broughton, North Wales and watched the engineers building the wings for one of our new Airbus A350-1000 XWB aircraft.

The A350 wing

Although a wing’s main job is to provide lift, there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. Wings are also packed with control surfaces; those panels you see extending as you take off and land. These are called ‘high lift’ systems and consist of slats at the front and flaps at the back. They increase the size of the wing area which allows the aircraft to fly at slower speeds. The other control surfaces built into the wings are ailerons which control the roll of the aircraft and help steer it, and spoilers that can be used as brakes to slow the aircraft in flight and to reduce lift as it lands. Wings also contain much of the fuel for your flight and are the anchor points for the giant Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

The A350 wing incorporates the very latest features of wing design and has been developed using over 4000 hours of wind tunnel time. The result is one of the most efficient wings ever built.

The A350 Wing Production Building in Broughton. Photo © M.Chainey, Airbus

History and heritage

The first thing you notice about the Airbus Broughton site is its size. At 700 acres, it’s enormous. It has four separate wing production buildings, its own airport and even its own football pitch. Broughton also comes with a thoroughbred aviation pedigree. The site has been producing aircraft since 1939, including legends such as the Avro Lancaster and the DeHavilland Comet which were built here before it started to specialise in wings under the ownership of Hawker Siddeley. All the engineers I met were proud not only of the work they were doing today but also of the part they play in the continuing heritage of the site.

Opened in 2011 and called the North Factory, the A350 line is the most recent of the Broughton wing production buildings. This world leading wing assembly plant is as big as Wembley Stadium and optimised for energy saving with solar tracking arrays and biomass boilers.

The lower skin of the A350 wing just after arrival in Broughton.

Once the skins have been offloaded from the Beluga – a modified freight aircraft named after the distinctive white whale –  the engineers start to put all the pieces together beginning with the ribs and all the internal components.  Five hundred and fifty people work in the North Factory, and it takes five days to assemble an A350 wing.

  • At over 32 meters long the A350 wing is the longest piece of composite material in civil aviation. Photo © M.Chainey Airbus

As you’d expect this is all high spec, high tech stuff and the factory is spotlessly clean. For a non-technical visitor like me, there is so much to take in. The wings are huge. I know that shouldn’t come as a surprise but off the aircraft, you can really appreciate not only their size but the beautiful complexity of their shape. This is wing design and engineering at its cutting edge. Then there’s the giant titanium engine pylon. It’s as impressive a piece of metal as you’re likely to find anywhere, and capable of supporting the power and weight of the engine that hangs from it. Once the wing is finished it is prepared for the next stage of its journey, loaded back into the Beluga and flies off to  Bremen.

Gareth Salt, our Head of A350 program, next to one of the wings of our first A350.

Meet the Beluga. By the time our wings are attached to rest of the A350 in Toulouse, they’ve flown as passengers from Spain to Wales to Germany and finally to the FAL. They do that in this giant modified Airbus A300 aircraft.  Airbus has five Belugas and has just introduced the new larger Beluga XL. Based on the A330 it is currently being tested and will start operating in 2019. These huge aircraft transport parts for Airbus aircraft from different sites around Europe to the final assembly line in Toulouse and play a vital role in keeping the busy Airbus production lines running. Photo © Airbus

Bremen: Fitting the high lift systems

Once in Bremen, the Airbus team get to work installing all the ‘high lift’ systems and hydraulics.  This is also where our own engineers scrutinise every centimetre of the giant wing. I asked Paul Reilly, our aircraft production & delivery manager, how you go about inspecting and signing off something as big, complicated and important as an Airbus wing.  “It’s basically a large box with lots of equipment hanging off it,” said Paul. “We inspect using industry best practice, looking for any debris, clipped cables, leaking connections or paint and surface defects.” Helping Paul with the A350 inspections is Ian Arnell, one of our certifying engineers who brings 28 years of experience to the task. Once Ian, Paul and the team are satisfied with it, the wing takes its last flight as a passenger, onboard the Beluga to Toulouse to be united with the rest of the aircraft.

  • Ian Arnell, certifying engineer, inspects the wing

  • The flaps and slats after fitting in Bremmen

Tolouse: it all comes together

After their journey across Europe, the wings finally arrive at the Airbus Final Assembly Line where they’re joined to the rest of the aircraft. But how is that done? “It’s basically a huge flange,” explains Paul. “The wings are hoisted into position, then laser aligned and bolted on using high tech fasteners. The finishing touch is the upturned sharklets at the end of the wing which bring the first splash of Virgin red onto the aircraft.

The first splash of red on our A350 as the Airbus team attached the Sharklets to the wing.

The A350 now looks like an aircraft. But before it can fly there’s still a lot to do. The interior has to be installed. All the electrics have to be hooked up and tested. It has to be painted. The aircraft is then moved outside for ground tests. It’s filled with fuel, and all the control surfaces are tested. Once everyone is happy with this stage the aircraft is moved over to the flight line where all the pre-flight take-off checks are done, the engines have test runs, and the first test flight takes place. Only when that has been done is the aircraft presented to the airline for acceptance testing. But that’s another blog post for another day.

All coming together nicely. The Broughton wings attached to our first A350

A large banner at the Broughton factory proudly announces that ‘The World Flies on Our Wings’. It’s that combination of pride and quality of work that is so impressive about Airbus. Their engineers and designers make a massive contribution to the world of aviation, and we can’t wait for those Broughton wings to lift us on the next exciting phase of our story – our Airbus A350-XWB.

And this is what the finished A350 is going to look like. We can’t wait!

Virgin Atlantic last night operated a LanzaTech sustainable fuel flight

Virgin Atlantic Airways last night operated a LanzaTech sustainable fuel flight (VS16) from Orlando to London (Gatwick). The airline made this announcement on social media:

We’ve landed! The first commercial flight using LanzaTech sustainable jet fuel was our VS16 from Orlando to London Gatwick, operated by a Boeing 747 aircraft.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and LanzaTech issued this statement:

Carbon-rich pollution converted to a jet fuel will power a commercial flight for the first time today.  The Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ flight from Orlando to London using a Boeing 747 will usher in a new era for low-carbon aviation that has been years in the making.  Through a combination of chemistry, biotechnology, engineering and catalysis, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and its industrial partner LanzaTech have shown the world that carbon can be recycled and used for commercial flight.

LanzaTech, a Chicago-based company, developed a unique carbon recycling technology that operates similarly to traditional fermentation but instead of using sugars and yeast to make alcohol, waste carbon-rich gases, such as those found at industrial manufacturing sites, are converted by bacteria to fuels and chemicals, such as ethanol. The ethanol can be used for a range of low carbon products, including alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which is now eligible to be used in commercial flights at up to 50 percent blends with conventional jet fuel.

LanzaTech turned to the catalytic expertise of PNNL, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory, which developed a unique catalytic process and proprietary catalyst to upgrade the ethanol to (ATJ-SPK).  The catalyst removes oxygen from the ethanol in the form of water, and then combines the remaining hydrocarbon molecules to form chains large enough for jet fuel without forming aromatics that lead to soot when burned.

LanzaTech then scaled up the technology. The ethanol was converted to 4000 gallons of ATJ-SPK at LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines facility in Georgia and met all the specifications required for use in commercial aviation. In April 2018, an international standards body approved the ethanol-to-jet fuel pathway for aviation turbine fuel at up to a 50 percent blend ratio with standard, petroleum-based jet fuel based on LanzaTech’s Research Report.

DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office has been instrumental in supporting the technology development. With co-funding from BETO, LanzaTech is now preparing a design and engineering package for an ATJ production facility implementing the LanzaTech-PNNL ethanol based ATJ-SPK pathway. LanzaTech’s Freedom Pines site is the location of a planned facility which would be able to convert sustainable ethanol to millions of gallons per year of low carbon jet and diesel fuels.

“This fuel exceeds the properties of petroleum-based jet fuel in terms of efficiency and burns much cleaner,” said John Holladay, PNNL’s deputy manager for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “And by recycling carbon already in the environment — in this case waste gas streams — it lets the world keep more petroleum sequestered the ground. The technology not only provides a viable source of sustainable jet fuel but also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.”

“Thanks to collaborative efforts of our friends, partners and governments across both sides of the Atlantic, we are showing the world that carbon capture and utilization is ready today,” said Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech chief executive officer. “Many people thought recycling waste carbon emissions into jet fuel wasn’t possible. We have shown that waste carbon is an opportunity not a liability and that carbon can be reused to provide sustainable benefits for all. Together we can create the carbon future we need.”

Photos: Virgin Atlantic and PNNL.