Tag Archives: Virgin Atlantic Airways

Farewell Millennium Falcon

Javier Rodriguez reporting from Spain:

Little by little the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 registered as G-VLIP is losing its promotional decals “Millenium Falcon” as it has been sold to Atlas Air for cargo purposes and will be ferried in a few weeks to US.
G-VLIP is pictured at Ciudad Real International Airport.
Copyright Photo: Javier Rodriguez.

Virgin Atlantic completes solvent recapitalisation

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

Airline calls for robust passenger testing regime to open the skies

Virgin Atlantic has announced the completion of the £1.2bn private-only solvent recapitalisation of the airline and holiday business. Its Restructuring Plan has now been sanctioned by the English High Court under Part 26A of the UK Companies Act 2006, and formally recognised in the US court. This final step in the legal process paves the way for the Company to continue its efforts to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis a sustainably profitable airline.

Achieving this significant milestone puts Virgin Atlantic in a position to rebuild its balance sheet, restore customer confidence and welcome passengers back to the skies, safely, as soon as they are ready to travel. However, the devastating impact of Covid-19 on global aviation continues unabated and the airline must take further steps to ensure survival.

The solvent recapitalisation is a major step forward in securing the future of Virgin Atlantic

Now the Restructuring Plan has been formally sanctioned by the UK court and given full force and effect in the US, the airline will implement its Restructuring Plan with the support of Virgin Group and Delta, existing creditors and new private investors, keeping Virgin Atlantic flying and providing essential competition and connectivity to customers.

  • The Plan delivers a refinancing package worth c.£1.2bn over the next 18 months in addition to the self-help measures already taken: £280m in cost savings per year, £880m reduction in fleet capex in the next five years.
  • Shareholders Virgin Group and Delta are providing c.£600m in support over the life of the plan, including a £200m investment from Virgin Group and the deferral of c.£400m of shareholder payments such as brand fees and Joint Venture related costs.
  • The airline continues to have the support of credit card acquirers (Merchant Service Providers) Lloyd’s Cardnet, First Data and American Express.
  • Davidson Kempner Capital Management, a global institutional investment management firm, is providing £170m of secured financing and the airline’s largest creditors and suppliers are contributing an additional £450m by way of deferrals

Testing to relax travel restrictions and remove quarantine is vital

The outlook for transatlantic flying, which is core to Virgin Atlantic’s business, remains uncertain with US-UK travel curtailed. Until travel returns in greater numbers, survival is predicated on reducing costs further and continuing to preserve cash. On the back of the continued success of Virgin Atlantic Cargo operations, the restart of skeleton passenger operations – with flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Barbados, Shanghai, Miami and Delhi so far and Tel Aviv restarting on Sunday – has been an important achievement.  While performance has been encouraging, it is imperative that every sector the airline operates is cash positive.

Transatlantic flying represents 70% of Virgin Atlantic’s network. Since 16 March it has not been possible for many British nationals to enter the US upon arrival from the UK, Ireland and the Schengen Area. Since June, travellers arriving in the U.K. from the US have been subject to 14 days quarantine. The US border closure and UK quarantine measures have been in place for far longer than originally anticipated. As the airline increases passenger operations, the opening of US borders and removal of quarantine is imperative to recovery. These travel restrictions impact on Virgin Atlantic disproportionally given its long-haul operations focussed on the transatlantic. The airline is calling for both UK and US governments to introduce robust passenger testing regimes to lift travel restrictions whilst protecting public health.

Based on current outlook, the airline is planning to a scenario in which transatlantic flying from the UK does not extend beyond current skeleton operations until the beginning of 2021. In this scenario, capacity operated across its network in Q4 2020 would be c.25% of 2019, and revenues in 2021 could be only 50% of 2019 levels.

The devastating impact of Covid-19 on global aviation continues unabated and further steps must be taken to ensure survival

The last six months have been the most challenging in Virgin Atlantic’s history. Even in the toughest times, the people of Virgin Atlantic are what sets it apart and they have made tremendous sacrifices. Unfortunately, despite actions already taken to reshape and resize the business, regrettably the airline must go further one last time with changes at scale, to ensure it emerges from this crisis.

  • Today it is announcing further downsizing across the business, with a planned reduction of 1,150 jobs across all functions. Working closely with unions Unite and BALPA, a company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins today.
  • To mitigate as many cabin crew redundancies as possible, additionally, the airline is introducing a voluntary, Company-led and financed furlough scheme for an additional 600 crew when HM Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends at the end of October. Should HM Government extend its Scheme, the airline intends to continue to benefit from it.

 

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic commented:

“Together, we have achieved what many thought impossible and that is down to the efforts and sacrifices of so many across the Company. The completion of the private-only, solvent recapitalisation of Virgin Atlantic removes much of the uncertainty we faced and represents a major step forward in our fight for survival. We greatly appreciate the support of our shareholders, creditors and new private investors and together, we will ensure that the airline continues to provide vital connectivity and competition.

“Now we must focus our efforts on securing our long-term future, by ensuring that Virgin Atlantic not only survives but thrives as passenger demand returns. It’s clear that the introduction of passenger testing is the only way to enable the removal of travel restrictions and open up flying to key markets, while protecting public health. We will continue to work with our industry partners to press for urgent government action.

“After the sacrifices so many of our people have made, further reducing the number of people we employ is heart-breaking but essential for survival. I truly hope that as demand returns, we will see many members of our team returning to us. The unique spirit of our people, the passion we have for our customers and each other, and the drive to do things better has been tested but not broken. There will be a recovery, the timing and speed of which is uncertain. When our customers return to the skies we will be there to welcome them onboard with belief in our future. It is then that we will appreciate that everything we have done, painful to so many, was worth it.”

Virgin Atlantic set to launch new services to Pakistan from London and Manchester

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

Virgin Atlantic has announced it will be launching flights  to  Pakistan in December 2020.

Operating three new routes from London Heathrow to Lahore, London Heathrow to Islamabad, as well as from Manchester to Islamabad; these new services will go on sale in September 2020 subject to applicable regulatory approvals, and will boast Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class, Premium and Economy Light, Classic and Delight offering.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented:

“With travel restrictions remaining in place for many destinations around the world, we’re continually evaluating our network, looking at customer demand and where there are opportunities to launch new services.”

“Pakistan is an extremely exciting opportunity for us – it boasts one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the US and, as people start to travel to visit loved ones, we’re anticipating the demand  to visit friends and relatives will increase post COVID-19. Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travellers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region”.

“We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US – Pakistan market. Using the strength of our trans-Atlantic services we’re able to offer customers the shortest journey to and from destinations in the US such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington by connecting through London Heathrow”.

Virgin Atlantic restarted passenger flying on  July 20, 2020 after a  three month  hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently operating flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Barbados and Miami with further routes being added throughout September and October.

 

Virgin Atlantic provides complimentary COVID-19 global insurance cover for all bookings

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

  • To support customers and provide additional peace of mind, Virgin Atlantic has introduced Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover, which will apply to all existing and new bookings, travelling from 24 August 2020 up until 31 March 2021.
  • The insurance policy with Allianz Assistance offers comprehensive cover in the event that a Virgin Atlantic customer or travel companion becomes ill with COVID-19 while on a trip.
  • Emergency medical costs, associated expenses such as transport and accommodation and repatriation up to £500,000 are included, as well as costs if a customer is denied boarding or held in quarantine.

 

Virgin Atlantic customers can book with confidence this year with the introduction of free COVID-19 insurance cover on all new and existing bookings.

The policy, which applies automatically to all flights booked with Virgin Atlantic, is designed to complement existing travel insurance and provide additional peace of mind for upcoming trips, whether customers are already booked or plotting a getaway.

In the event that they or anyone else on their booking becomes ill with COVID-19 while travelling, Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures related costs are covered, no matter how long the trip is or even if they’re visiting another destination on the same overseas trip. The insurance policy is fulfilled by Allianz Assistance and covers emergency medical and associated expenses while abroad totalling £500,000 per customer – the highest value of policy offered by any airline to date, with no excess payment required.

The policy also covers expenses incurred up to £3,000 if a customer is denied boarding, at either departure or in destination, or has to quarantine due to positive or suspected COVID-19 during a trip.

Customers booked to travel from 24 August 2020 up to and including 31 March 2021 will automatically receive the new COVID-19 Cover and Virgin Atlantic Holidays customers will also benefit, where the flights on their holiday booking are with Virgin Atlantic. Providing the customer is travelling on a Virgin Atlantic ticket, if the flight is operated by a partner airline or a Joint Venture carrier – Delta Air Lines or Air France-KLM – the cover will also apply. Tickets can be booked via virginatlantic.com, by phone or through a travel agent, including reward tickets on Virgin Atlantic flights.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic said:

“Our priority is always the health and safety of our people and customers and this industry-leading Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures customers can continue to fly safe and fly well with us.

“Following our return to the skies to much-loved destinations like Barbados, we’re planning more services in the autumn, as travel restrictions continue to ease, including London Heathrow to Montego Bay, Antigua, Lagos and Tel Aviv. Whether it’s to visit friends and relatives or take a well-deserved break, we believe this complimentary cover will provide some added reassurance for our customers as they start to plan trips further afield. It applies in parallel to existing travel insurance policies which may now exclude COVID-19, and provides comprehensive cover for coronavirus, recognising the needs of our customers as we restart services.”

Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover joins the airline’s flexible booking policy to give as much choice as possible to customers as they make their future travel plans. Customers booking with the airline have the option to make two date changes to their flights, with rebooking available up until 30 September 2022. These date changes have the associated change fee waived, though potential fare differences may be incurred if the new travel dates are after 30 November 2020.

Key features of the COVID-19 Cover include:

  • 24-hour emergency medical assistance
  • £500,000 of emergency medical expenses if you are taken ill due to Coronavirus during your journey, including treatment, transport and accommodation costs
  • Additional costs should a customer be denied boarding due to suspected or actual COVID-19, or if they are held in quarantine, including accommodation, transport charges, refreshments, booking amendment fees and other travel expenses
  • Repatriation home, including private air ambulance where necessary
  • No excess payable
  • Cover for the whole trip, with no upper limit on the length of customer’s time away
  • Cover for all passengers with no restrictions on age, travel class or length of journey
  • Terms and conditions apply.

The cover starts from the point of booking and ends when the customer returns home or to a hospital or nursing home in their home country. One-way trips are also included, with the insurance cover valid until the end of the journey, which is defined as 12 hours after the arrival of the customer’s final flight.

For a full breakdown of Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover and more information on the policy visit the Virgin Atlantic website: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/news/coronavirus/free-global-cover-for-COVID-19.html

As part of its multi-layered approach to public health measures, and for customer convenience, peace of mind and confidence, Virgin Atlantic will direct customers towards a list of recommended companies that offer COVID-19 ‘PCR Antigen’ testing, where it’s required to travel. This list will be constantly reviewed by the Medical, Health and Safety teams to ensure the highest standards. Information about the testing requirements for destinations that Virgin Atlantic currently flies to can be found on the website: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/news/coronavirus/travel-restrictions.html

Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy protection in the United States

From CNN:

“Virgin Atlantic has filed for bankruptcy in the United States as it races to finalize a $1.5 billion plan to rescue it from the aviation industry’s worst crisis.

The company, which is based in the United Kingdom, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York on Tuesday, which shelters the US assets of foreign companies undergoing restructuring proceedings in their home country.”

Virgin Atlantic announces a successful recapitalization

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

Virgin Atlantic has reached a major milestone towards securing its future on July 14, by announcing plans for a private-only solvent recapitalization of the airline, following the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, the nation and the travel and aviation industry.

A Solvent Recapitalization of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has taken a big step forward in securing its future, by launching a court backed process as part of a solvent recapitalisation of the airline and holiday business, with a Restructuring Plan that once approved and implemented, will keep Virgin Atlantic flying.

The Restructuring Plan is based on a five year business plan, and with the support of shareholders Virgin Group and Delta, new private investors and existing creditors, it paves the way for the airline to rebuild its balance sheet and return to profitability from 2022.

The recapitalisation will deliver a refinancing package worth c.£1.2bn over the next 18 months in addition to the self-help measures already taken, including cost savings of c.£280m per year and c.£880m rephasing and financing of aircraft deliveries over the next five years.  

  • Shareholders are providing c.£600m in support over the life of The Plan including a £200m investment from Virgin Group, and the deferral of c.£400m of shareholder deferrals and waivers
  • Virgin Atlantic welcomes new partner Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP, a global institutional investment management firm which is providing £170m of secured financing
  • Creditors will support the airline with over £450m of deferrals
  • The airline continues to have the support of credit card acquirers (Merchant Service Providers) Lloyd’s Cardnet and First Data.

To secure approval from all relevant creditors before implementation, the Restructuring Plan will go through a court-sanctioned process under Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006 (the “Restructuring Plan”). With support already secured from the majority of stakeholders, it’s expected that the Restructuring Plan and recapitalisation will come into effect late Summer 2020.

Decisive action underpins the Restructuring Plan

Global aviation was one of the first industries impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and will be one of the last to fully recover. From the start, the airline took decisive action to ensure its survival. In March, the Leadership Team took voluntary pay cuts and since April, more than 80% of the workforce has benefitted from the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, supporting efforts to preserve cash and minimise costs. In Q2, flying fell by 98% and in the second half of 2020, capacity is expected to reduce by at least 60% compared to 2019, with pre-crisis levels of flying unlikely to return until 2023. With the suspension of passenger flying in April, the airline delivered an unparalleled network of cargo-only flying, operating more than 1400 cargo flights in April, May and June.

In May, the difficult decision was taken to reshape and resize in order to emerge from the crisis sustainably profitable, and regrettably the airline had to reduce the number of people it employs by 3,550 across all functions.

Having closed its London Gatwick base, while retaining a slot portfolio at the airport to protect opportunities for future growth, leisure flying is now consolidated at London Heathrow and Manchester. By 2022 Virgin Atlantic will fly the same number of sectors as 2019 despite its smaller scale, demonstrating productivity and efficiency improvements. The airline will operate a streamlined fleet of 37 twin engine aircraft following the retirement of 7 x 747s and 4 x A332s by Q1 2022, with rescheduled delivery of outstanding A350s and A339s.

 

Returning to the skies

From July 20, 2020 Virgin Atlantic will restart passenger flying and has a vital role to play in supporting the UK economy as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays will continue to support global supply chains and flying customers safely to the places they love to travel. While demand will be slow to recover, Virgin Atlantic will ensure its customers always feel confident to fly by continuing to prioritise the health, safety and security of its people and customers throughout their journey. Sustainability remains central to the airline, and its simplified fleet will be 10% more efficient than it was pre-crisis.

Virgin Atlantic aircraft photo gallery:

Virgin Atlantic aircraft slide show:

https://airlinersgallery.smugmug.com/frame/slideshow?key=qXxgHt&speed=3&transition=fade&autoStart=1&captions=0&navigation=0&playButton=0&randomize=0&transitionSpeed=2

Virgin Atlantic to add 17 additional destinations

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

  • Airline set to return to 17 additional destinations across the network, including Tel Aviv, Miami, San Francisco and Barbados planned from August 2020.
  • Follows plans to restart first passenger flights from London Heathrow from 20th July 2020 onwards
  • Restart of routes dependent on travel restrictions lifting around the world
  • Additional measures put in place at the airport and onboard to ensure health and safety of our customers and our people

Virgin Atlantic has announced its plan to restart passenger flying to 17 additional destinations from August 2020.

Following the airline’s announcement that services from London Heathrow are expected to resume from 20th July 2020 onwards, Virgin Atlantic has unveiled more detailed plans that will see passenger flying restart to many destinations across the airline’s network.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: “As countries around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, we look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to many destinations across our network. From 20th July we are planning to resume some services and then from 1st August onwards, we will resume passenger flying to 17 additional destinations around the world including Tel Aviv, Miami, Lagos and San Francisco,”

“However, we are monitoring external conditions extremely closely, in particular the travel restrictions many countries have in place including the 14 day quarantine policy for travellers entering the UK. We know that as the Covid-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery. Therefore, we are calling for UK Government to continually review its quarantine measures and instead look at a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, including air bridges, which will support a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses.”

Virgin Atlantic planned return to flying from London Heathrow Terminal 2 (subject to change and dependent on travel restrictions)

Planned restart date Routes
20th July 2020 London Heathrow to Hong Kong
21st July 2020 London Heathrow to New York JFK, Los Angeles
1st August 2020 London Heathrow to Barbados
4th August 2020 London Heathrow to Shanghai
4th August 2020 London Heathrow to San Francisco
9th August 2020 London Heathrow to Tel Aviv
18th August 2020 London Heathrow to Miami
23rd August 2020 London Heathrow to Lagos
24th August 2020 London Heathrow and Manchester to Orlando (subject to CDC approval)
25th August 2020 London Heathrow to Atlanta
September 2020 London Heathrow to Washington, Seattle, Las Vegas
September 2020 London Heathrow to Mumbai, Delhi
September 2020 London Heathrow to Boston
October 2020 London Heathrow to Montego Bay, Antigua, Grenada and Tobago (vai Antigua)
October 2020 Manchester to Barbados
Virgin Atlantic will operate temporarily from Terminal 2 at Heathrow, due to HAL’s terminal consolidation. Virgin Atlantic will return to its much-loved home at London Heathrow Terminal 3 when demand at Heathrow grows, enabling Terminal 3 to reopen

Virgin Atlantic has taken the difficult decision to delay the restart of its London Heathrow to Orlando service and it will now resume on 24th August 2020. Seasonal services from Glasgow and Belfast to Orlando will resume for selected dates in summer 2021. We will continue to monitor our network on an ongoing basis and expect more flights from London Heathrow and Manchester to resume in September and October 2020.

Your Health & Wellbeing

To ensure the health and safety of our customers and our people, Virgin Atlantic is implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies**. These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant onboard in all our cabins and lavatories, ensuring no surface is left untouched.  Safe distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, particularly at check-in and boarding and where not possible, masks will be required. We will provide a personal Health Pack for the wellbeing and comfort of all our customers, which will contain medical grade face masks as a requirement to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel. In the short term, to minimise contact, we will also be offering a simplified hot food service in Economy and Premium Economy enclosed from preparation in a Covid-safe, monitored environment directly to our customers’ seats. Upper Class customers will receive a choice of hot meals, desserts, including cheese & biscuits, which will be delivered to their seat on a tray. We will also be serving a temporary limited alcohol offering in all cabins.

Transporting Essential Cargo

In addition to the restart of passenger flying, Virgin Atlantic continues to operate cargo-only flights keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. Throughout June, the airline plans to operate more than 600 cargo-only services, serving destinations including Delhi, Chicago, Brussels, Johannesburg, Lagos and Miami.

The airline also looks forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on 17 cargo charters per week from Shanghai and Beijing throughout June and July, bringing in the vital medical supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. To date the airline has carried over 44 million items of PPE from China to the UK.

Virgin Atlantic Airways aircraft photo gallery:

Virgin Atlantic to restart passenger operations in July

Virgin Atlantic Airways has made this announcement:

  • Services from London Heathrow to New York JFK, Los Angeles, Orlando, Hong Kong and Shanghai set to resume from July 20 and July 21,  2020, with more destinations set to be announced in the next two weeks for the month of August
  • Additional measures put in place at the airport and onboard to ensure health and safety of our customers and our people
  • Dedicated cargo operations to continue to destinations on the Virgin Atlantic network and beyond, keeping essential supply chains running

Virgin Atlantic has announced its plan to restart passenger flying, with services from London Heathrow to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York JFK and Los Angeles set to resume from July 20 and July 21, 2020.

 

“Our planned first flights will be to Orlando and Hong Kong on July 20, however, we are monitoring external conditions extremely closely, in particular the travel restrictions many countries have in place including the 14 day quarantine policy for travellers entering the UK. We know that as the COVID-19 crisis subsides, air travel will be a vital enabler of the UK’s economic recovery. Therefore, we are calling for a multi-layered approach of carefully targeted public health and screening measures, which will allow for a successful and safe restart of international air travel for passengers and businesses. We are planning to announce more destination restart dates in the next two weeks for the month of August.”

Virgin Atlantic planned return to flying from London Heathrow Terminal 2*

Flights will be loaded into systems over the next two weeks subject to change.

Restart date Route
20th July 2020 London Heathrow – Orlando
20th July 2020 London Heathrow – Hong Kong
21st July 2020 London Heathrow – Shanghai
21st July 2020 London Heathrow – New York JFK
21st July 2020 London Heathrow – Los Angeles
**Virgin Atlantic operates temporarily from Terminal 2 at Heathrow, due to HAL’s terminal consolidation. Virgin Atlantic will return to its much loved home at London Heathrow Terminal 3 when demand at Heathrow grows, enabling Terminal 3 to reopen

Your Health & Wellbeing

To ensure the health and safety of our people and our customers, Virgin Atlantic is implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies**.

These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant onboard in all our cabins and lavatories, ensuring no surface is left untouched.

Safe distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, particularly at check-in and boarding and where not possible, masks will be required. We will provide a personal Health Pack for the wellbeing and comfort of all our customers, which will contain medical grade face masks as a requirement to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel. In the short term, we will also be offering a simplified hot food service onboard to minimize contact, enclosed from preparation in a COVID-safe, monitored environment directly to our customers’ seats.

Corneel Koster, Chief Customer Officer, Virgin Atlantic commented: “Our teams have been working tirelessly to ensure that the health and safety of our airport and onboard experience offers peace of mind to our customers when travelling with us. Our medical experts are working closely with all relevant U.K. and international health and aviation authorities to ensure we adhere to, and on many occasions exceed the guidance they are offering, whilst continuously reviewing and updating the measures we have in place to keep our customers and teams safe.”

“We are carrying out health questionnaires before check in and are calling upon airport and health authorities to put temperature checks in place as part of a multi layered, end-to-end health screen.

We have introduced a personal Health Pack for the comfort of all customers, containing medical grade face masks, surface wipes and hand gel, and are implementing a series of measures to limit customer-to-customer and customer-to-crew contact throughout the journey. While we will continuously review our measures, wearing a mask for the duration of the flight will initially be required. Our meticulous cleaning program ensures our planes are disinfected and amongst the cleanest in the skies, while we work with our airport partners to ensure sanitisation of customer touchpoints on the ground. Our customers are in safe hands and we are really looking forward to welcoming them back onboard from July 20.”

Transporting Essential Cargo

In addition to the restart of passenger flying, Virgin Atlantic continues to operate cargo-only flights keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. Throughout June, the airline plans to operate more than 600 cargo-only services, serving destinations including Tel Aviv, Chicago, Brussels, Johannesburg, Lagos and Miami.

The airline also looks forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on 17 cargo charters per week from Shanghai and Beijing throughout June and July, bringing in the vital medical supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. To date the airline has carried over 44 million items of PPE from China to the UK.

Virgin Atlantic aircraft photo gallery:

Videos:

Virgin Atlantic increases cargo-only flights by over 33% in June after a record-breaking month in May

Virgin Atlantic made this announcement:

Virgin Atlantic will increase its cargo-only flights by 35% to nearly 600 in June with the launch of new routes including Beijing and Brussels following the success of its May program.

June will see a total of 601 flights – 597 cargo-only services and 4 repatriation flights for the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). As the airline continues to extend its network to support demand for export and import cargoes as UK and international businesses continue their recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak, this month’s schedule highlights for customers include:

  • The launch of daily flights connecting London Heathrow and Beijing
  • Virgin Atlantic’s first-ever flights to Brussels, arriving from New York JFK before connecting directly to London twice-a-week
  • Three flights a week to Chicago, starting on 4 June
  • Increased Mumbai services to three a week, with UK departures every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from June 6
  • Three-times weekly London-Atlanta flights from June 9
  • A return to Nigeria with weekly Lagos flights to and from London 
  • Increase to daily flights to and from Hong Kong 

The airline’s growing schedule means cargo customers now have access to direct cargo capacity connecting London, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Lagos, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Brussels. Kales Airline Services, Virgin general sales agency in Brussels will market its increased direct capacity in Belgium.      

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “I want to personally thank all of our cargo customers who have supported our cargo-only flying. We’re proud to be increasing the number of frequencies and routes we can offer in June as international trade steps us its recovery and lockdowns are eased around the world. While the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to restrict passenger flying, our cargo operation has never been more important both to our business and in keeping vital global supply chains running.”

In May, Virgin Atlantic operated 446 cargo-only flights, including 66 charters for customers, averaging 52 weekly departures from the UK. The airline carried 4.4 million kilos of cargo into the UK and 5.3 million kilos of exports, producing the highest monthly cargo revenues in the airline’s 36-year history.

The airline also looks forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on 17 cargo charters per week from Shanghai and Beijing throughout June and July, bringing in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. To date the airline has carried over 44 million items of PPE from China to the UK, including over 33 million isolation and medical masks, as well as millions of disposable aprons and gloves, and protective coveralls. Other PPE shipments to date include eye protection covers, ventilators, isolation gowns, injection and infusion pumps, and disposable samplers and swabs.  

Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, added: “May was an historic month for our cargo business, which is a quite remarkable achievement given the current trading environment. As well as demonstrating our customers’ confidence in Virgin Atlantic, this is a tribute to everyone in the airline who remains so committed to maintaining our customer offering despite the uncertainties which persist in the market. June will see this offering grow again and we are hoping for similar customer support now we have proven the resilience of our cargo-only flying programme.”

Virgin Atlantic early retires its remaining Boeing 747-400s, will cut 3,150 jobs

Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced the immediate retirement of its seven remaining Boeing 747-400s.

The airline was previously planning to retire the type in 2021.

The airline on May 5 issued this statement:

As Virgin Atlantic aims to establish itself as the sustainability leader, it will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations. It will be moving its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at London Gatwick, so it can return in line with customer demand.

From May 5, Virgin Atlantic will no longer use all of its seven Boeing 747-400s, with four A330-200 aircraft retiring in early 2022 as planned.  By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise of 36 twin engine aircraft reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10%, building on the 18% efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.

Most are now in storage at Manchester or Glasgow.

Even in the toughest times, the people of Virgin Atlantic are what sets it apart and decisions taken have been aimed at preserving as many jobs as possible. In order for the airline to emerge from the crisis, regrettably it must reduce the number of people employed and today the company is announcing a planned reduction of 3,150 jobs across all functions. Working closely with unions BALPA and Unite, a company-wide consultation period of 45 days begins today.

Note: For the record, the pictured Boeing 747-400 G-VROS (below) operated the last revenue flight on March 31, 2020 on flight VS608 from Los Angeles to London (Heathrow).

Named "English Rose"

Above Copyright Photo: Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 747-443 G-VROS (msn 30885) LGW (Robbie Shaw). Image: 945391.

Virgin Atlantic Airways aircraft slide show: