Virgin Atlantic has announced its plans to grow to record levels of sustained profitability by 2018.
Building on its existing two year recovery plan, which is on target to deliver an annual profit by the end of 2014, the airline is now shifting focus onto positioning its business for long term success.
In order to achieve this ambition, Virgin Atlantic plans to update its network and make significant investment into the Virgin Atlantic customer experience.
Virgin Atlantic has identified opportunities for investment into its transatlantic schedule as it looks to maximise the benefits of its joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines. Today it is outlining a programme of network changes that will significantly increase its presence in the key UK – US travel market, whilst it continues to fly to major strategic destinations in the rest of the world and retain a relevant global presence. The network changes will deliver up to five new daily transatlantic flights and see over 500 more Virgin Atlantic flights operate in summer 2015 compared to summer 2014.
The proposed changes include:
- A new daily service from London Heathrow to Detroit
- An additional daily service from London Heathrow to New York, JFK
- An additional daily service from London Heathrow to Los Angeles
- An additional daily service during the summer season from London Heathrow to Atlanta
- An additional summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to San Francisco flying five times a week
- An additional daily service during the winter season from London Heathrow to Miami
- A transfer of operations with joint venture partner Delta Air Lines that will see Virgin Atlantic fly a daily service between Manchester and Atlanta and Delta fly one of Virgin Atlantic’s existing London Heathrow to Newark services.
- In addition, Delta Air Lines will launch a new daily service between Manchester and New York JFK in Summer 2015.
In order to maximise these opportunities, further proposed changes will include:
- A withdrawal of operations to Tokyo Narita with the final flight from London to Narita on 31 January 2015 and the final flight from Narita to London on 01 February 2015.
- A withdrawal of operations to Mumbai with the final flight from London to Mumbai on 31 January 31st 2015 and the final flight from Mumbai to London on 01 February 2015.
- The summer seasonal service from London Heathrow to Vancouver will not return after this season’s flying programme is completed on 11 October 2014.
- The winter seasonal service to Cape Town will operate as planned in winter 2014/15 but will not be renewed the following winter. The final flight from London to Cape Town will be on 26 April 2015 and the final flight from Cape Town to London on 27 April 2015.
The intended changes will enable Virgin Atlantic to better utilise its fleet by flying routes which deliver maximum profit or strategic importance, whilst matching customer desire to travel to other global destinations.
The new route from London Heathrow to Detroit, and the new services from Heathrow to LA, New York JFK, Miami and San Francisco and the service from Manchester to Atlanta will all form part of Virgin Atlantic’s joint venture with Delta Air Lines. The increased transatlantic flying will enable the Virgin Atlantic and Delta partnership to grow and provide an even stronger competitor to other transatlantic alliances. Across the joint venture, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines will now offer ten daily services from London to the New York area, including eight daily services between London Heathrow and New York JFK, the world’s number one business travel route. There will be greater choice for customers, with the new service to Detroit offering over 100 connecting opportunities across North and Central USA to destinations such as Cincinnati, New Orleans, Memphis and Indianapolis.
Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Craig Kreeger said:
“Our ambition is to be profitable for the long term, earn competitive returns, and invest those into providing the very best experience for our customers on the routes they most want to fly. Transatlantic flying has always been at the heart of our network and our most financially successful region. Today’s announcement allows us to play to our strengths and focus our network on routes between the UK and US, as well as other critical global destinations that are most important to our customers. We are confident that with this strengthened network, our new aircraft and our welcoming people delivering unrivalled service, we have all the right ingredients to achieve long-term success.”
Among the plans the airline has set out is a commitment to investing in customer experience. A major programme of work is already underway that will see £300m invested by the end of 2018, on the ground and in the air. The imminent arrival of Virgin Atlantic’s first Boeing 787-9 will continue a fleet modernisation programme of over £2bn that will give it one of the youngest fleets in the world.