MIAMI – Virgin Atlantic (VS) has announced its new flying program for Summer 2021, serving major US cities via London Heathrow and VS’s home base, Manchester. Seasonal services between Glasgow, Belfast, and Orlando will also resume.

A second daily service from Heathrow to Tel Aviv, Israel will also be added in March 2021.

The seamless connection will allow customers to have a consistent long-haul onboard experience from VS’s US destinations including New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta via London Heathrow to Tel Aviv.

Previously, the airline expected the recovery to pre-crisis traffic to take up to three years, but according to today’s press release, it expects demand for travel to gradually return once countries start to lift travel bans.

Thus, VS now says that it will increase its number of passenger flights in the second half of the year with a full recovery in 2021.

Trans-Atlantic flights in a hopeful post-COVID-19 world

Yuli Thompson, VP, North America and International at VS said, “Our longstanding commitment to US customers remains clear as we confirm our summer 2021 flying program.”

“Virgin Atlantic will continue to offer great connectivity between major US hubs with our focus on London Heathrow and Manchester airports, ensuring our close trans-Atlantic ties remain strong, and onward links to our international network are as seamless as possible,” added Thompson.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic on his part said, “As the Covid-19 crisis stabilizes and demand gradually begins to return, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and flying them safely to their favorite destinations.”

“We have taken the opportunity to pause, reflect and reshape our 2021 flying program looking at efficiencies in our fleet and connectivity across our network, to ensure it is fit for the future, flying to the destinations we know our customers love to fly.

“We’re delighted that our popular Tel Aviv service, which launched in September 2019, will now increase to double daily, whilst regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast will continue to play an important part in offering choice to customers and connecting UK travellers to Orlando, Barbados, New York and Los Angeles.”

For the trans-Atlantic flights, the carrier will fly a modern fleet of wide-body, twin-engine aircraft comprising of A330-300, Boeing 787-9, A350-1000 as well as A330-200, before they retire in early 2022 as planned.

The airline’s seven Boeing 747-400 will no longer be in use. By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise 36 twin-engine aircraft, reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10%, building on the 18% efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.

Virgin Atlantic’s summer schedule begins on 28th March 2021

Flying from LHR
AntiguaHong KongNew York JFK
BarbadosLagosSan Francisco
BostonLas VegasSeattle
Cape Town*Los AngelesShanghai
GrenadaMontego BayTel Aviv
Flying from MAM
AtlantaNew York JFKLos Angeles
Flying from Glasgow
Orlando(seasonal service)
Flying from Belfast
Orlando(reduced seasonal service)

*Seasonal winter service to Cape Town until April 2021. Please note: This schedule is subject to change. Services on sale from 16th May 2020 onwards.

Base reduction and consolidation at LHR

On May 5, the carrier announced a plethora of changes to its operation in the post-COVID-19 climate, including the closure of its London Gatwick (LGW) base, the early retirement of the Boeing 747-400, and the reduction of 3,150 jobs.

Photo Credit: Virgin Atlantic

Shai Weiss, the airline’s CEO, explained at the time that “to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash, and to protect as many jobs as possible.

Weiss added that it was crucial for VS to return to profitability in 2021. “This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.”