British airline Virgin Atlantic has announced new routes for the winter 2020 season, including a new service between Manchester and Delhi. Other new routes are planned out of both Manchester and London Heathrow beginning October 2020.
A year of continued growth for Virgin
Virgin Atlantic has been having something of a bumper time over the past 12 months. 2019 was an incredible year for the carrier which saw it introducing new aircraft, buying Flybe and tying up an extensive joint venture with Delta and Air France-KLM.
But it seems the plucky UK company is not done yet. Today, the airline has announced a brand new service between Manchester and Delhi and also between London and Cape Town. As well as that, it is boosting capacity on routes to Havana and Barbados, clearly aiming for the lucrative leisure market for its 2020 growth.
Chief Commercial Officer for Virgin Atlantic Juha Jarvinen commented on the announcement, saying,
“2020 is an extremely exciting year of continued growth for Virgin Atlantic and increasing our presence out of Manchester is a huge focus for us. Not only are we the headline sponsor of the Manchester Pride Festival but we’re delighted to announce a new service flying three times a week from Manchester to Delhi, additional capacity into Barbados from Manchester as well as a Clubhouse opening this summer. This year will also see Flybe transform into Virgin Connect, and we’re excited to offer customers flying from the north 47 daily flights throughout the UK, Ireland and across Europe.”
“2020 marks our 20th anniversary of flying to India and as the destination continues to grow in popularity for both business and leisure travel, we’re thrilled to fly to Delhi for very first time from Manchester, our home in the north. Additionally, we look forward launching new services from Heathrow to Sao Paulo and Cape Town as well as increasing capacity on our Heathrow to Havana route.”
Virgin’s new service to Sao Paulo is slated to kick off next month.
The new services
Altogether, Virgin has announced four new services to be added over the coming months. These are Manchester to Delhi, Manchester to Barbados, Heathrow to Cape Town and Heathrow to Havana. Not all of these services are brand new; some are representative of upticks in capacity rather than brand new connections. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Manchester to Delhi
Virgin has been flying to Delhi for two decades now, and currently flies twice a day from London Heathrow. However, from the 26th October, travelers from the north of England will be able to get to India more easily, with a new service departing Manchester three times a week.
The route will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 and will fly every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Carrying flight number VS318, it will depart Manchester each day at 16:40, arriving in Delhi the following day at 06:05. The return flight, VS319, will depart on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Delhi t 08:10 each day. It will arrive in Manchester at 12:10.
Virgin says these flights will start from £535 per person return, and will go on sale from the 3rd March.
Manchester to Barbados
Virgin already flies to Barbados daily from Gatwick and also operates a seasonal winter service from Heathrow. From January 2021, it will add a service from Manchester too, operating three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The airline hasn’t given details of departure times or flight numbers, but with almost a full year to go until the service commences, there’s plenty of time to sort that out. What it has told us is that the service will be operated on the inimitable Boeing 747, aka the Queen of the Skies.
If you’ve got a hankering for some Caribbean sunshine, there’s no better way to get there than on board the glorious 747. Virgin says return fares will start from £564 per person.
Heathrow to Cape Town
Virgin does fly to South Africa, but currently only connects between Heathrow and Johannesburg. As such, this is a brand new connection to the popular leisure destination of Cape Town, squarely targeting the tourist traffic with a daily seasonal service.
The new service will begin on the 25th October, and will depart Heathrow as VS478 at 16:20 each day. The trip will be overnight, arriving into Cape Town at 05:55. Returning, VS479 will leave Cape Town at 08:00, arriving in London at 18:00.
While the Johannesburg service is operated by Virgin’s stunning new Airbus A350, the Cape Town route will operate using a Dreamliner. The 787-9 offers a comfortable means of undertaking this long journey, although the Upper Class product is not quite as good as the A350. Virgin says return fares will start at £713 per person.
Heathrow to Havana
Virgin is currently the only UK airline to fly direct to the island nation of Cuba. Despite the US ban on some Cuba flights, tourism there is booming. As such, it’s not a huge surprise to see Virgin adding capacity on the route.
Previously operating twice per week, Virgin has bumped this up to three times a week, flying every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. This is equivalent to a 45% uptick in capacity, and offers more flexibility for those looking to visit this unique and vibrant city.
What do you make of Virgin’s new routes and service additions? Excited to try any of them out? Let us know in the comments.