News: Virgin Atlantic – grand plans for new routes, second A350 enters service & new food

Virgin’s grand plans for new routes

Like most airlines based at Heathrow, Virgin has been calling for less dominance by IAG (BA’s parent company) at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic is set to challenge IAG’s dominance at London Heathrow, as it unveiled its plans to significantly increase its long haul route network and launch a new comprehensive network of domestic and European routes when Heathrow expands. The new route maps below illustrate how the airline’s flying programme could grow to give more choice for customers, but only if the way new Heathrow slots are allocated is changed. Virgin would like to position itself as a second flag carrier airline at Heathrow airport.

 

The plans represent a fourfold increase on Virgin Atlantic’s current international network with 84 new destinations planned and includes unserved destinations such as Kolkata (India), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Panama City (Panama), where currently passengers cannot travel non-stop. In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long haul destinations, up from 19 long haul destinations in 2020.

Currently IAG holds more than 55% of all the take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, with no other airline holding more than 5% of the remaining slots.

Shai Weiss, CEO Virgin Atlantic, commented:

“Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens thousands of travellers.  Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this.  Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.

“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. Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive.”

 

Virgins’ second A350 enters service

Virgin’s second A350-1000, registration,  G-VPOP but also known as Mamma Mia arrived in the UK last week and yesterday flew from Gatwick to arrive at Heathrow for the first time. The aircraft will be flying the London- New York route along with the other first three A350s. Today TLFL’s Paul will be joining other members of the press on an A350 flight to New York to check out Virgin’s A350 Upper Class Suite in flight. He will be flying on the first A350, G-VLUX, otherwise known as Red Velvet. 

Follow along on Instagram or Facebook to virtually fly along with Paul today and tomorrow.

 

 

Virgin’s new food partnership

Shakshuka

Virgin Atlantic is celebrating Israel’s culture by tailoring the onboard experience on its new London to Tel Aviv service. With the first flight taking place on 25th September, flying daily between London Heathrow and Ben Gurion airport, customers can enjoy locally inspired cuisine created by innovative London restaurant The Good Egg. 

With locations in Soho and Stoke Newington, The Good Egg will be bringing a selection of specially created dishes to the Virgin Atlantic Heathrow Clubhouse as well as on board in Upper Class and Premium. Customers can look forward to dishes celebrating Tel Aviv’s street food culture all prepared using high quality ingredients sourced from sustainable and ethical producers.

Dishes served in the London Heathrow Clubhouse

Grain bowl

Shakshuka, The Good Egg’s signature dish of eggs baked with tomatoes, sweet peppers and spices and served with preserved lemon yoghurt and sourdough.

Grain Bowl, A nourishing dish of chilli and lemon dressed buckwheat, golden tahini, kale, raw and roasted beets, pickled cauliflower and soft-boiled egg.

ZFC Burger, Crispy chicken thighs brined overnight in buttermilk and chilli, za’atar-seasoned and deep fried, inside a brioche bun with kraut, pickles and filfel mayo and served with spiced fries and zhoug.

 

Upper Class dishes

Labneh, A staple in the Middle East. Greek yoghurt salted and strained overnight served with pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and chilli relish and pita bread. 

Lamb Shawarma, slow-cooked lamb is fall-apart tender. Served with mujadarra rice, mixed pickles and zhoug. 

Buttermilk Malabi, a traditional milk pudding with rose and cardamom syrup, green pistachio and tahini cookies.

Babka Pudding, our famous babka, torn and steeped in custard then baked and served with honey labneh, date syrup and pistachio brittle. 

 

Dishes served in Premium Economy

Cod in Chraimeh Sauce with green chilli relish and spiced cous cous. 

In addition, Virgin Atlantic will be tailoring the inflight entertainment with Hebrew subtitles as well as all inflight announcements taking place in both Hebrew and English. 

 

 

4 Comments on "News: Virgin Atlantic – grand plans for new routes, second A350 enters service & new food"

  1. Sounds a lot like a bit of publicity work and aiming to limit BA, and not a lot like any actual plan. You could give Virgin all the slots and they’d still not be flying to Auckland, and creating a European network out of thin air doesn’t seem particularly likely.

    I’d be very happy if it all did, but I’m not holding my breath!

  2. I’ve never really thought of Virgin as a flag carrier airline…

  3. I wonder what Delta would think of Virgin starting a complex Europe-wide network… Given the new JV with AF-KLM and their buyout of Flybe shouldn’t that be enough of a feeder network.

    With regard to the third runway itself I am supportive if it is done in combination with a series of other green upgrades and policies – for example a massive improvement in rail connectivity (jointly funded by government and Heathrow) to transfer nearby domestic passengers (Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle etc) onto direct trains to Heathrow instead of a connecting flight – perhaps checking in their luggage at the station. I believe KLM is doing this by dropping AMS-BRU flights and putting passengers onto a Thayles train. I would also hope that Heathrow would look to massively increase landing fees for older generation aircraft to encourage adoption of fuel-efficient jets – for example any aircraft which debuted in the last 10 years or so is exempt (737-Max, A320-neo, 787, A350, A330-neo, 777-X etc).

  4. @Kiran I imagine DL and AF would be helping to fund this massive expansion. As the majority owners they’d benefit from it.

    @Michele I think you might have tht wrong UC suite picture – isn’t that the seat from the A332?

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