Delta Air Lines Announces Huge Multi City UK Expansion

Delta Air Lines has today announced a major expansion of flights to the UK. As well as boosting its presence at London Heathrow, the carrier is planning something of a comeback at both Gatwick and Manchester too. Capacity will be added at LHR in late March, while Delta’s return to LGW and MAN will not be until May, 2020.

Delta 767-400
Delta is planning a major UK expansion. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Network Planning, commented on the developments in a press release, saying,

“Delta and its partners offer an unmatched global network that’s capable of taking Boston and New York customers to more worldwide destinations than ever before. Our investment at these airports and in these communities continues to deepen as we grow our flight offerings and live up to our commitment to connect the world better than any other airline.”

Delta’s UK takeover

From the end of March, Delta’s growth in the UK will start to take effect. The first expansion will be seen at Heathrow, where the US airline will add capacity to JFK from March 28th.  This will take its daily flights up to three, and will mark the first time Delta has operated daylight transatlantic flights to Heathrow.

Along with its partner, Virgin Atlantic, this will take the frequency of flights per day between LHR and JFK to a total of eight. All Delta’s JFK and Boston flights from Heathrow will be operated using its Boeing 767-400 aircraft, all of which have now been upgraded with a modern, refreshed cabin. This includes the new Delta One suite, as well as Delta Flight Products new wireless IFE system.

Delta one Suites
The new Delta One suites look like a great way to cross the Atlantic. Photo: Delta

Over at Gatwick, Delta is staging something of a comeback. The south London airport was Delta’s original UK destination some 40 years ago, but the carrier switched its last service from here to Heathrow back in 2012.

From 21st May, Gatwick will become the seventh transatlantic destination to be served from Boston by Delta. It will be the first time that both Delta and Virgin have operated out of Gatwick since their partnership began in 2014. Between the two of them, there will be 18 daily flights from Boston to the UK via this airport.

On this service, Delta will use its Boeing 757 aircraft.

Delta Boeing 757
Delta’s 757s will return to both LGW and MAN. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The final frontier to get the Delta treatment will be the northern UK Virgin Atlantic stronghold that is Manchester Airport. Virgin has been investing heavily in improving facilities at Manchester, so much so that it has encouraged Delta to return to the North of England.

Delta previously flew to Manchester for over 25 years, beginning service in 1991. But, in 2017, it pulled out of the airport entirely, leaving the services to joint venture partner Virgin. However, from May 21st, 2020, Manchester will round off the Delta expansion, becoming the eighth transatlantic destination for the carrier.

Again flying its Boeing 757 aircraft, Delta will operate nonstop flights to Boston from this city. Virgin will continue to offer flights to other US cities, including Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and Los Angeles. Between the two of them, there will be as many as six daily flights over the summer season.

Delta transatlantic expansion
Delta’s new transatlantic routes. Image: GCMap

Details of the flights

Delta’s new schedule is shaping up to offer some convenient flights in addition to those they already operate. The new flights are as follows:

  • The Heathrow service from JFK departs New York at 10:15, landing at LHR at 22:25 daily. Returning, it leaves LHR at 07:30 arriving at JFK at 10:30.
  • The Boston to Gatwick service departs BOS at 21:00, arriving at LGW at 08:45 (+1 day). Coming back, departure is scheduled for 10:30, arriving at 13:20 each day.
  • JFK to Gatwick operates from New York at 19:30, arriving in London at 07:50 (+1 day). Return flights will leave at 12:55, arriving in JFK at 15:40.
  • For the Manchester service, flights leave BOS at 22:00, arriving in MAN at 09:30 (+1 day). The daily service returns to Boston departing Manchester at 11:30 and arriving at 14:00.

With these new services, it’s clear that Virgin and Delta are keen to solidify their presence on the highly competitive transatlantic market. It seems they are particularly keen to grab passengers on the Heathrow – New York route, with both carrier’s saturating the schedule with their newest and best aircraft and cabins.

It will be interesting to see how other carriers react. British Airways, United and other transatlantic contenders will have a hard time keeping up with the Delta-Virgin tie-up, especially in the premium classes. Who would you fly with? Let us know in the comments.