Virgin Atlantic Denies Guyana Flights Rumour

Virgin Atlantic is being widely reported to be looking to start direct flights from London to Georgetown, Guyana, as soon as 2020. The Guyana government says it has held talks with senior members of the Virgin Atlantic team, and that the carrier is keen to add Guyana to its route network soon.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is looking at Guyana for next year. Photo: Wikimedia

However, Simple Flying asked Virgin about their Guyana plans, to which the airline responded,

“There’s no truth in this I’m afraid.  We’re always reviewing our route network but we currently have no plans to launch flights to Guyana.”

Originally reported by the Jamaica Observer this weekend, the Virgin Atlantic rumor has been widely reiterated by other outlets, including Barbados Today and CAPA.

Virgin’s probe of Guyana

While Virgin is denying thinking about a Guyana service, the Guyana government reportedly started the widespread rumor. Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said,

“They were on a Skype call to myself and the Minister of Finance, on them coming here… This was the Director of the airline with oversight for routes. He was going into a meeting and he would like to know what is Guyana’s position, saying he would like to put Guyana on their route for 2020,”

LHR-GEO. Image: GCMap

Virgin already fly to Barbados and other Caribbean destinations, but Guyana would be something completely new. In fact, it would likely have the route all to itself, as no other European airline offers a direct connection.

At just over 4,500 miles, the route could comfortably be operated by Virgin’s A330-900neo (when it arrives) and in the meantime could be served by the A330-300. The Dreamliner could also make the trip, as could the shiny new A350-1000. However, it’s unlikely the airline would want to put such a large aircraft on a new and unproven route, so our money’s on the A330 or the 787.

Virgin Atlantic 787
The 787 Dreamliner would be a good fit for the route. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

US-based carriers are starting to take notice of the South American nation too, with JetBlue and United Airlines both expressing an interest in starting a route. American Airlines already flies to Guyana and is looking to expand its services in December 2019.

Why Guyana?

Tourism in Guyana has seen massive growth over the past decade. According to Trading Economics,  2009, just 141,000 visitors arrived in the nation; by last year this had doubled to 281,000. By the end of this quarter, tourist numbers are expected to have already exceeded 2018 levels, with a predicted 290,000 arriving in the country. According to econometric models, arrivals in 2020 are expected to hit as many as 340,000.

Rainforests, waterfalls… the appeal of Guyana is huge. Photo: Amanderson via Flickr

The appeal of Guyana is huge, with rainforests, mountains and savannah environments to tempt the intrepid traveler. Despite this, most people probably couldn’t find Guyana on a map, and almost certainly haven’t had the pleasure of visiting. But with Virgin and other mainline carriers looking to start services there, all that could be set to change.

There’s a lot to love about Guyana, from its Caribbean vibe to its widely spoken English, which will make it appealing for those wanting to visit South American but who lack the Spanish or Portuguese required to get by. It’s safe, friendly and absolutely packed with culture, history and wildlife. If Virgin does eventually add this hidden gem of South America to its routes, we can see it quickly becoming the next big tourism hotspot.

Would you visit Guyana with Virgin Atlantic? Have you already been? Let us know in the comments!