Virgin Atlantic to Not Return to London Gatwick

Virgin Atlantic to Not Return to London Gatwick

DALLAS – Virgin Atlantic (VS) has ruled out its impending return to London Gatwick Airport (LGW). The airline also asks that London Heathrow Airport’s (LHR) capacity problems from this summer not happen again.

Virgin Atlantic will retain its slots at LGW as its joint-venture partner, Delta Air Lines (DL), will be resuming services to New York from the airport next spring.

Virgin’s CEO, Shai Weiss, stated that the company will concentrate on its Heathrow hub, which provides better connectivity, and that it is prepared to run in 2023 at its full pre-pandemic capacity.

Capacity was estimated to be 15% to 20% below pre-pandemic levels during this year’s peak travel season, so LHR should have started planning for the return of travel this summer earlier, noted Weiss.

Still, despite the fact that he applauded LGW for how it recently managed operations, Weiss said VS had no intentions to return flying from the West Sussex airport.

Virgin Atlantic G-VBOW Boeing 787-9. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

Comments from Virgin Atlantic CEO

The Virgin Atlantic CEO said while speaking in London as VS announced its upcoming SkyTeam airline alliance membership, “We completed 99.4% of our flights. But on the flip side, we cancelled 188 flights and 38,000 customers were impacted, for which I want to apologise.”

“Heathrow was right to say that there was a problem ramping up, but not for all airlines equally. We were the least impacted because we were the most prepared. They [Heathrow] should have started their preparations a year ago.”

“I want to commend Gatwick because they have operated the airport extremely well under difficult conditions. We are glad that Delta is adding another service,” said Weiss. Adding that the problem at Gatwick was one of connectivity. “Never say never, but it’s not in our plans for 2023 for Virgin Atlantic to fly out of Gatwick.”

A return to short-haul flights is also not planned for the foreseeable future after the VS’ Little Red, which connected LHR to Manchester and Scotland, ceased operations in 2015.

Wess claimed that due to the joint venture with Air France-KLM, its partner already flies to several UK locations and that any return to short-haul service after COVID would be indefinitely on wait.

Featured image: Virgin Atlantic G-VZIG Boeing 787-9. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

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