For the Northern Hemisphere Winter Season, Virgin Atlantic has scheduled one of its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft to operate its route between London and Barbados. This means that customers flying in the airlines Upper Class cabin will be treated to Virgin Atlantic's best Business Class seats.
Virgin Atlantic has today announced that it plans to offer three new services between the United Kingdom and Pakistan from December 2020. To some, this may seem like an odd path for Virgin Atlantic to choose, but the fact is that what we're witnessing is an airline coming to terms with a very key weakness and looking for ways to mitigate the risks that weakness brings.
Virgin Atlantic has been on a roll with announcements of late and, once again, the latest announcement (published yesterday) caught most people unawares. For flight bookings for travel through the end of March 2021, the airline will offer all passengers free Covid-19 insurance with no restrictions on age, travel class, or length of journey. But what exactly does this insurance cover?
Virgin Atlantic has been fighting for survival for most of the summer and it's only recently that the airline has been back in the skies and flying back and forth across the Atlantic. A recent schedule update published by the airline confirmed that, for September/October 2020, it will offer customers flights to just five US destinations.
Virgin Airlines has been living on the edge ever since the current crisis first hit the headlines as, unlike a lot of its competitors, it found itself unable to access the aid on offer from its home government. In its fight for survival, we have seen the airline cut over 35% of its workforce and abandon one of its hub airports and we have seen multiple pleas for help from the UK government go unanswered...but the airline keeps soldiering on.
In a recent schedule update, Virgin Atlantic has reversed a decision taken back in February which saw California lose the prospect of getting a new A350 route and it has added a further A350 flight to a city already served by the airline's flagship aircraft. If the schedules don't change again (admittedly that's a very big "if"), California will be getting a lot more A350 service from Virgin Atlantic starting from this fall.
"Vieco 10" probably won't mean much to most people but it's the name of the investment company owned by Virgin Group (and therefore Richard Branson) which holds a controlling interest in Virgin Galactic. Last night, in a statement to the New York Stock Exchange, Vieco 10 confirmed that it is disposing of up to 25m shares in Virgin Galactic as Richard Branson seeks to raise funds to save a number of ailing travel enterprises.
Virgin Atlantic has just announced that it plans to "reshape and resize" its operations in a bid to survive the current crisis. With the airline struggling to raise desperately needed funds and with the British government still apparently not inclined to offer a lifeline, Virgin Atlantic says that it will be closing down its operations at Gatwick and shedding 3,150 jobs.
Virgin Atlantic's Premium Economy cabin is known for offering the widest seats you'll find outside of a First or Business Class cabin and, combined with the airline's reputation for friendly flight attendants, that's what made this cabin an appealing choice for an overnight flight that I had to take between Washinton D.C. and London at a time when Business Class fares were sky-high.
Over the weekend, reports emerged that discussions between the UK government and Virgin Atlantic had collapsed following the airline's request for a £500m ($620) government loan to help keep it afloat. The Telegraph reported that a buyer would now have to be found if the airline was to survive and that Richard Branson had set a deadline of 31 May before the airline would be put into administration.