Virgin Atlantic announces 're-shaped' summer 2021 programme

Virgin Atlantic has expressed confidence in its future by releasing a “re-shaped” summer 2021 flying programme to 24 destinations.

The schedule confirms the airline’s withdrawal from Gatwick with the network concentrated on Heathrow plus regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast airports.

Services to Orlando and the Caribbean will switch to Heathrow from their traditional Gatwick base with the start of next year’s summer flying on March 28.

The details have been released with flights going on sale on May 16 as the airline continues to seek government financial aid in addition to new investors while the majority of flights are grounded and 3,000 jobs are cut amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline aims to steadily increase passenger flying in the second half of the year as countries start to lift travel restrictions and demand for travel begins to return, with a further gradual recovery through 2021.

Virgin Atlantic plans to run a fleet of wide-body, twin-engine aircraft comprising of Airbus A330-300s, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, A350-1000s, as well as A330-200s before they retire in early 2022 as planned.

Destinations from Heathrow include a seasonal winter service to Cape Town until April 2021 and increased frequency to Tel Aviv.

Ten destinations in the US will be served from the London hub plus five in the Caribbean in addition to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, Johannesburg and Lagos.

Five points from Manchester will be served to Atlanta, Barbados, Los Angeles, Orlando and New York JFK.

Seasonal summer flights are planned from Glasgow plus a reduced service from Belfast to Orlando.

Chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.

“We have taken the opportunity to pause, reflect and re-shape our 2021 flying programme looking at efficiencies in our fleet and connectivity across our network, to ensure it is fit for the future, flying to the destinations we know our customers love to fly.

“We’re delighted that our popular Tel Aviv service, which launched in September 2019, will now increase to double daily, whilst regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast will continue to play an important part in offering choice to customers and connecting UK travellers to Orlando, Barbados, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles.”

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