Virgin Atlantic Airways will today launch direct weekly scheduled services between London Gatwick and Tobago and Grenada using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, as part of a 50% increase in capacity on Caribbean routes by winter 2003.
Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:
“I’m delighted that Virgin Atlantic is now able to offer flights between London Gatwick and Tobago and Grenada. The leisure market is incredibly important to Virgin Atlantic and the Caribbean destinations are an essential part of our route network. Despite world events in the last couple of years demand has never been higher for travel to the Caribbean and we are proud to be expanding our route network at a time when other airlines are reducing capacity.
“Passengers travelling between the Caribbean and London will not only benefit from the increased competition Virgin will provide on these routes but also from the award-winning service and products Virgin Atlantic is renowned for.
“The launch of these services would not be possible without the help and support of many people the on both islands. In Tobago, I would like to thank the Minister of Culture and Tourism Hon. Penelope Beckles, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London and Councillor for Tourism for Tobago House of Assembly Hon. Neil Wilson. In Grenada, my thanks go to Minister Brenda Hood, Director General and CEO of Grenada Airports Authority Philippe Baril and Director of Tourism William Joseph.”
The new Virgin Atlantic route also means a projected annual economic benefit to Tobago and Grenada of more than £5m ($7.5m) in increased jobs, trade and tourism.
Judith Wilcox, Regional Manager - Caribbean for Virgin Atlantic, said:
“Virgin Atlantic entered the Caribbean market in 1998 introducing services between Gatwick and Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia and since then has flown over one million passengers on these routes. Virgin Atlantic remains committed to expanding in the Caribbean.”
Virgin Atlantic’s sister company Virgin Holidays offers a wide range of programmes to the islands.
Amanda Wills, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, said:
“Virgin Holidays is now the number one long haul scheduled tour operator to the Caribbean. Our extensive Caribbean programme is extremely popular with our customers. We stand out by offering every product type from the small boutique hotel to 5 star ultimate luxury.
“These additional routes have long been in demand and Virgin Holidays has a fantastic programme to offer in Grenada and Tobago which is selling tremendously well.”
In addition to these new routes, Virgin recently launched services between London Gatwick and Port Harcourt in February and is aiming to launch scheduled flights between the UK and Iraq as soon as possible. Grenada and Tobago bring the number of destinations on Virgin Atlantic’s route network to twenty two.
Flight VS051 will be operated by a Boeing 747-400 aircraft and will depart London’s Gatwick Airport on Mondays at 11:15 arriving in Tobago at 15:15 local. This aircraft will then depart Tobago at 16:15 arriving in Grenada at 16:55.
The VS052 return flight departs Grenada on Mondays at 19:05 arriving into Tobago at 19:45. The flight then departs Tobago at 20:45 arriving into London Gatwick at 10:10 the following morning. The flight time between London and Tobago is approximately eight hours. The flight time between Grenada and Tobago is approximately 40 minutes.