Virgin Atlantic Is Now Only Operating From London Heathrow

The unprecedented restrictions on travel at the current time have led Virgin Atlantic to ground around 85% of its fleet. Now, the carrier is consolidating its operations to just one airport. From Thursday 26th March, Virgin Atlantic will only fly from London Heathrow.

Virgin atlantic 74
Virgin will now only fly from Heathrow airport. Photo: Getty

Heathrow only services

As reported in Business Traveler, British carrier Virgin Atlantic has moved to consolidate its operations to just one airport. Previously, the airline flew from five UK airports, but has dropped four of them amid the current capacity crunch.

In a statement to Business Traveler, the airline said,

“In order to operate the fleet most efficiently, all of our remaining Virgin Atlantic flights will now operate out of London Heathrow Airport.

“Customers who have booked flights on a suspended service will be contacted with information about their alternative options or they can visit for more information, including customer center contact details. We’d like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by these changes.”

Virgin LHR Clubhouse
Virgin had only recently opened a Clubhouse in Manchester. Photo: Jo Bailey/Simple Flying

This means, in effect, that Virgin has dropped flights from Belfast, London Gatwick, Glasgow and it’s key focus city of Manchester. The airline had previously scheduled a marked increase in services from Manchester, alongside its joint venture partner Delta Air Lines, and had just opened a brand new Clubhouse at the airport too.

Just six aircraft flying

The more recent announcement from the airline suggested that 85% of its fleet would be parked until the crisis has passed. When Simple Flying analyzed the data for grounded Virgin planes earlier this week, we found 12 were left flying. Out of a fleet of 42, that represents a 73% capacity cut.

Virgin coronavirus
Virgin had previously grounded over 70% of the fleet; that number is now set to rise. Photo: Getty

However, Virgin’s statement to Business Traveler reveals that the airline is now moving to the full 85% grounding, as it stated it will only have six aircraft operational. The statement read,

“Following the rapid acceleration of Covid-19 and extensive travel restrictions, coupled with a sharp drop in customer demand, Virgin Atlantic will gradually reduce its flying program to operate a fleet of six aircraft for commercial and cargo services by Thursday March 26.”

Earlier this week, we noted that the airline was still operating flights with a mixed fleet. This included three A350s, one A330, two 747s and six 787-9s. Looking on FlightRadar24 this morning reveals just two flights airborne; one Dreamliner and one A350, both on the transatlantic service.

Virgin Atlantic Is Now Only Operating From London Heathrow
Just two Virgin planes are in the air right now. Photo: FlightRadar24

It’s not clear which aircraft will remain flying for Virgin going forward, although the highly efficient A350 and 787 are both likely candidates. Earlier this week, Virgin operated its first-ever cargo-only flight and is keen to do more of this to keep the flow of goods moving around the world.

Operating cargo has a double benefit for airlines like Virgin. Not only does it provide an essential service by moving crucial items like food and medical supplies around the world, it also allows the airline to earn a little revenue at this difficult time; a stream that looks to be increasingly important since the UK government stated it would not bail its airlines out.

What do you think about Virgin abandoning all but one of its airports? Perhaps you think the airline should stop flying altogether? Let us know in the comments.