August 9, 2022
British [Virgins] Invade Orlando International Airport (+Photos)

British [Virgins] Invade Orlando International Airport (+Photos)

MIAMI — Last Monday, Orlando International Airport’s skyline could have been mistaken with London-Heathrow or Gatwick, as the Floridian airport welcomed not one, but six Virgin Atlantic planes during its busiest day of the year.

Orlando’s continued growth has seen a dramatic boost in both domestic and international traffic. In fact, the first six months of the year have been so busy, that the airport claims it will remain “in the history books.”

Domestic movement increased by 1.2 million available seats (up by 6%), whereas international saw an increment of 355,000 available seats.

According to the airport, domestic passenger traffic is up 6.97% with 21,014,775 passengers. International movements logged 3,163,311 arrivals and departures, an 11% increment over the previous year.

On a rolling 12-month basis, the airport has welcomed 46,127,810—an all-time new record.

“Along with substantial increases in spring break and summer travelers, we can also thank our increases in air service, both foreign and domestic, for our record-breaking first half numbers,” says Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

“Orlando International has seen nearly seven percent overall growth, which puts us on track to top 47 million annual passengers by the end of the year.”

The spike in traffic has been attributed thanks to the numerous conventions, new attractions and competitive fares that are being held in Orlando this summer.

The Virgin Invasion

And during the airport’s busiest day of the year, Virgin Atlantic brought five Boeing 747-400s and one Airbus A330-300 from Manchester, Gatwick, and Belfast.

The airport documented the unusual event through its Twitter account, where proud Floridians bragged about “Brits loving Florida in the Summer.”

Virgin deployed all five aircraft from its two hubs in the UK and the special flight from Belfast. Orlando Airport claims that the extra capacity was to cater for a large number of students who are on vacation in England.

In addition to Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Norwegian, and Thomas Cook Airlines also flew in from Gatwick, making it a total of six flights from London, two from Manchester, and one from Belfast.

The first aircraft to arrive was Ruby Tuesday, a Boeing 747-400 coming in from Manchester as VS75.

In second place, flight VS27 followed from London-Gatwick with yet another Virgin Queen of the Skies, this time Jersey Girl.

Third, yet another Boeing 747 from Manchester as VS73, named Hot Lips.

Fourth, the single Airbus A330 in the”Virgin Six Pack” named Champagne Belle, flying in from Gatwick to break in the 747 action as VS49.

The second-to-last 747 came in with Pretty Woman as flight VS15 from Gatwick.

And, at last, Tinker Belle arrived from Belfast as flight VS161.

Overall, it was a fun day for the airport. Passengers reported rapid processing times at customs and border protection, suggesting that MCO was well prepared for the massive influx of passengers coming in from Britain.

But for the planespotters hanging out in the airport’s perimeter roads, it sure was one day that will be hard to forget.

Commercial Pilot, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Aviation MBA, Globetrotter, AS Roma fan, and in my free time, I fly the Airways Ship.

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