Virgin Atlantic Opens New Lounge Whilst Eying Manchester Thomas Cook Slots

Virgin Atlantic has reaffirmed its commitment to the UK’s northern city of Manchester as a major future hub. Previously both Virgin and its partner Delta announced an expansion of services to the city, and today Virgin has revealed that a brand new Clubhouse will also open in Manchester in spring 2020. With the demise of Thomas Cook, Virgin is hoping to snap up some vacant slots at the airport to allow for further future expansion.

Virgin LHR Clubhouse
Manchester is getting a Clubhouse! Photo: Jo Bailey/Simple Flying

EVP of Commercial, Juha Jarvinen told Business Traveler how focused Virgin Atlantic is on the Northern English city, saying,

“As part of our growth strategy, we have long-since held an ambition to expand in Manchester and that is reflected in a significant 92 per cent increase in seat capacity since 2014.

“Schedule expansion this winter, coupled with our first ever Clubhouse in the North, demonstrate our clear commitment to the region.

“There is a huge opportunity for Virgin Atlantic here. We want to be the airline of choice for customers travelling from Manchester Airport and we’re eager to build upon our announcement today, with a greater number of new flights and destinations to follow in the near future.”

A new Clubhouse for Manchester

Virgin Atlantic is promising great things for its hub at Manchester. In spring 2020, the airline will open its first Manchester Airport Clubhouse, Virgin’s signature lounge for premium passengers. Currently Virgin has Clubhouses in Heathrow, Gatwick, JFK, Newark, Los Angles, Boston, San Francisco, Washington and Johannesburg.

Virgin Clubhouse JFK
The stunning Clubhouse at JFK. Photo: Jo Bailey/Simple Flying

Construction will take place at Virgin’s terminal two location at Manchester, a terminal which is in the process of a huge renovation project right now. In addition to the Clubhouse, the terminal will also enjoy a new entrance, security hall, road, car park and departure area, all slated to open next year.

Virgin’s Clubhouses are regarded as some of the best premium lounges in the world. They are open to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers, Delta One passengers, and Virgin Atlantic Gold members. Details of the Manchester lounge are sketchy at the moment, but it’s likely to be reflective of Virgin’s usual high standards, with a la carte dining, work areas and premium amenities like a bar.

Virgin’s keen eye on Manchester slots

There’s a good reason Virgin are looking to revamp Manchester’s lounge offering. Right now, Manchester is an important hub for Virgin, and the airline has invested heavily in improving the passenger experience at the airport already. However, with the demise of Thomas Cook, suddenly Manchester holds even more promise for the UK airline.

Virgin A350-1000
Virgin wants the ex-Thomas Cook slots at Manchester. Photo: Virgin

According to Bloomberg, Virgin Atlantic are already in talks with Airport Coordination Ltd, the body responsible for allocating slots at Manchester, in a bid to secure those left vacant by Thomas Cook. Reportedly, Virgin is looking to add more flights by summer 2020, largely on the back of these slots.

To demonstrate its commitment to Manchester, Virgin has allocated more capacity to the airport for the winter season too. A third frequency to Barbados and more appearances by the Boeing 747 will add around 65% to the capacity, with 30,000 more seats for the winter season alone.

Virgin’s partner Delta is also keen to secure space at Manchester, with services launching from the northern UK city from May 2020 to Boston. Securing these extra slots could mean more opportunities for the US airline also.