Late next year you could be flying on a Virgin Atlantic plane to Tel Aviv, as the carrier announced it is launching a new route to the cosmopolitan city in Israel later next year.
Whilst Virgin Atlantic was founded by famous Billionaire Richard Branson, he recently released controlling stake in the airline which appointed a new CEO. June 2018, Israeli Shai Weiss accepted the role of CEO of Virgin Atlantic, with a desire to compete for the popular London – Tel Aviv route.
To launch the route, Virgin hopes to fly 200 fans of the Eurovision contest (a pan-European singing contest) to Israel in May, where the final is taking place. The route will officially open from September.
It is unknown at this point of an exact launch date nor what plane they will use (although it is rumored to be an Airbus A330).
Of course, this route is already popular with Virgin Atlantics rivals and might not be such a slam dunk as they think.
Who is the competition?
Unfortunately for Virgin Atlantic, there is a lot of competition on the five-hour route. A simple google flights search for the launch dates for the new route reveal very cheap competition.
Naturally, these are incredibly cheap discount carriers who will be offering a no-frills service. As for the full-service carriers:
- El Al is offering a direct route overnight from London (Luton) for under $300 USD, four times a day, which is a pretty great deal. El Al, of course, is the Israel flag carrier and the only fleet of planes to have countermeasures against missiles, which is not something you need to worry about (but it does give you peace of mind). This flight in on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- British Airways has three flights a day flight to the city, for only $400 USD. Likely they are banking of return customers with a return flight deal (one way is over $1000). This flight leaves from the better connected London Heathrow airport. This flight is on an older Boeing 777.
We have not discussed the various options of connecting through nearby airports where further savings and better travel classes can be reached, such as Turkish through their new International Airport.
To remain competitive, Virgin Atlantic will need to have a frequency of two or more flights a day. Whether or not they want to commit to this level of investment for a new route remains to be seen.
Should you be paying more than $400 for a flight that is essentially a regional European flight of only five hours? That is a question Virgin is hoping you will answer in their favor.
Virgin Atlantic officials will be touring the Israel airport next month to discuss operations and how they can best integrate their service.
What do you think? Will the new Virgin Atlantic service be successful?