May 26, 2024

Virgin Atlantic reveals Heathrow expansion plans

Virgin Atlantic has released plans for future routes from Heathrow if it is awarded more flight slots when the airport's third runway opens from 2026.

Future Virgin Atlantic route maps show the airline intends to serve up to 84 new destinations including Argentine capital Buenos Aires, the Japanese city of Osaka and Cape Town in South Africa. It would represent a four-fold increase on its 19 long-haul destinations from Heathrow in 2020.

The airline says it intends to break the monopoly on certain routes and introduce more competition, while some of its proposed routes such as Indonesian capital Jakarta, Panama City and Kolkata in India are currently not served by any direct flights from the UK.

The widening of Virgin Atlantic’s flight network is part of ambitious plans to become Britain’s second flag carrier and hinges on a forthcoming UK government decision on slot allocation at an expanded Heathrow.

In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long-haul destinations, with 12 domestic routes, including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester and 37 European destinations, including Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid.

Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss, says: “Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier.

“This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world.”

2019 has been a year of significant growth for Virgin Atlantic, which includes the announcement of three new routes from Heathrow to Tel Aviv, Mumbai and São Paulo.

It also formed part of the Connect Airways consortium that recently acquired Flybe and will launch its expanded joint venture with Air France, KLM and Delta by the end of the year.

The latest addition to the airline’s fleet, the Airbus A350, took to the skies this month and follows its announcement in June that it will purchase 14 A330-900neos.