Virgin Atlantic announced today that it plans to launch direct services from Gatwick to Cuba and The Bahamas as well as increasing its existing services to Las Vegas, Grenada and Tobago from July 2005. The new services will operate twice a week to Havana in Cuba, starting from 21 July, and once a week to Nassau in The Bahamas, starting from 18 July. This will bring the airline’s total number of destinations to twenty-five by summer next year. An additional service to Grenada and Tobago will double the airline’s services to two per week to the islands following the launch of services May 2003. The services will form part of a 20% increase in capacity to the Caribbean routes and will be operated by a Boeing 747-400.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:
“I am delighted Virgin Atlantic is launching two new routes to the Caribbean and I’m sure that both Cuba and The Bahamas will be extremely popular with our passengers. Our presence on these routes will bring increased competition and better value for money which is ultimately good news for the travelling public.
“The leisure market, in particular our services to the Caribbean, has remained strong throughout the past few years of difficult trading
conditions and we are confident that its popularity will continue to grow over the coming years.
“The airline is now entering into a period of significant expansion where we expect to increase, not only the number of destinations we operate to, but also our fleet and capacity on routes worldwide. Gatwick is our spiritual home and plays a key role in our forward strategy. These new routes mean we will fly to ten destinations out of Gatwick.
“I went with my family to Cuba for Christmas and discovered an absolutely fascinating country with incredible beaches, beautiful countryside and fantastic architecture. I think British holidaymakers will love it and find it to be great value for money. For years and years The Bahamas have been asking us to break British Airways’ monopoly on this route and at last we are putting our foot in the door.”
Amanda Wills, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, commented:
“Since launching services to Grenada and Tobago in 2003 Virgin Holidays has become the biggest long haul scheduled tour operator to the Caribbean.
“With a choice of over 140 hotels and 18 islands we offer holidays to suit everyone from small boutique style hotels to hotels that cater specifically for families. We even feature a property where you can learn to be a trapeze artist!”
Judith Wilcox, General Manager Caribbean, said:
“Since Virgin Atlantic entered the Caribbean market in 1998 we have flown approximately 1.4m passengers. Our expansion in the Caribbean in the past six years has been phenomenal and the new routes and additional capacity is great news for the Caribbean as a whole.”