Virgin Atlantic announced today the launch of exciting new routes across three continents, with brand new aircraft. Network growth comes as the airline capitalises on sustained demand for international travel, with customers set to benefit from more than 250,000 total additional seats* across Virgin Atlantic’s network, compared to 2019.
The airline’s international route network will be boosted by its first move into South America, with a brand-new daily flight from London Heathrow to São Paulo, Brazil. One of the most populous cities in the world, São Paulo is home to multinational businesses, providing corporate customers and business travellers the opportunity to fly in Virgin Atlantic style. The city is famed as the foodie capital of Brazil, a bustling city offering a bounty of arts and cultural experiences, which will enthral experience hungry leisure travellers. Brazil’s position as the number one import and export country in South America will also make São Paulo a popular cargo route. With multiple tonnes of capacity each day, Virgin Atlantic expects to carry regular shipments of car parts, pharmaceuticals, food and agricultural products, contributing to £7.7 billion** in annual trade between the two countries.
São Paulo is a key hub in Brazil for Virgin Atlantic’s codeshare partner and South America’s largest airline, LATAM. The partnership provides customers with onward connections to 12 domestic airports in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Florianopolis as well as offering earn and redemption options for Flying Club members. Additionally customers travelling from São Paulo to London Heathrow will have the option to smoothly connect onto Virgin Atlantic’s rest of world destinations through Terminal 3 – home of the airline’s award-winning Clubhouse - including Tel Aviv, Delhi and Shanghai.
Signalling expansion in the country, Bengaluru (Bangalore) will become the airline’s third destination and fourth daily service to India. Since 2019, Virgin Atlantic has increased capacity to India by 250%, the airline’s largest area of growth outside the United States. Launching in Summer 2024, the addition of this new route means the airline will offer 500,000 seats (total) each year between the UK and India, while its growing codeshare with IndiGo, India’s leading airline, flies to 34 destinations across the country. Bengaluru is a rapidly growing tech hub and one of the largest corporate markets in India, whilst intrepid travellers will enjoy the city’s rich culture and beautiful gardens. The new service will offer seamless connectivity and a premium long-haul experience for those customers connecting via London Heathrow to destinations throughout North America including Seattle, San Francisco and New York JFK, with Virgin Atlantic and transatlantic joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines.
For customers looking for premium winter sun, last week Virgin Atlantic announced its return to Dubai, operating seasonally from October through to March four times a week. The airline expects the new route to be a hit with leisure customers, capturing increased demand for premium holidays in sunny destinations. As well as flying customers, Virgin Atlantic will offer 20 tonnes of cargo capacity on each flight. This fast cargo service will offer new opportunities for companies looking to export and import goods such as fresh produce and high-tech products between the Middle East and prime markets in the UK and US. The news follows new route announcements to the Maldives and Turks and Caicos, as well as inter-island flying in the Caribbean, between Barbados and Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Manchester Airport, the airline’s home in the North, will receive new flights, with the relaunch of seasonal summer services between Manchester and Las Vegas, three times a week. Virgin Atlantic is committed to providing services to in-demand leisure destinations for its customers in the North of England and beyond, as it continues to grow its network.
Providing customer connectivity remains a focus, working with a range of world class partners. Alongside expanded joint venture partners Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM, the airline joined SkyTeam alliance in March 2023, meaning customers benefit from a consistent, seamless customer experience, across 1,000 global destinations in over 170 countries, with a further codeshare announcement with Korean Air since launch.
In parallel to growth of the airline’s route network, the arrival of its two latest aircraft – the Airbus A350 and A330neo – contributes to an average fleet age of just 6.5 years. The A330neo is 11% more fuel efficient than the aircraft it replaces and sets the standard for Virgin Atlantic’s fleet going forward. It offers a premium, personalised experience including a reimagined Upper Class cabin with a unique Retreat Suite, alongside game changing wireless charging. By the end of 2024, the airline will have received its full order of 12 Airbus A350s, as well as the arrival of a further four A330neos. To support the operation, 350 additional cabin crew will be recruited to join the airline’s award-winning frontline team in delivering its renowned customer service.
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, commented;
“We’re excited to announce a range of new routes across three continents, giving our customers the opportunity to fly in style with Virgin Atlantic. From our entrance into South America, to our expansion in India and the growth of our premium sun portfolio, there is something for all of our customers to experience.
“By leveraging the power of our strategic partners, and welcoming our state of the art, brand new A350 and A339 aircraft, customers can rely on Virgin Atlantic to connect them to where they need to be, enjoying a premium customer experience, delivered by our amazing crew. Our plan is working, positioning us to return to profitability in 2024.”
Flights from London Heathrow to São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport will operate daily on the airline’s flagship Boeing 787-9, from 13 May 2024. Flights are set to be on sale from August, with fares starting from £655. Flights to Bengaluru will operate on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from 31 March 2024, boasting 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 192 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats, as well as the airline’s signature Upper Class social space.
*Total additional seats (round trip)
** Department for Business and Trade: Total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and Brazil was £7.7 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022.