Delta and Virgin Atlantic have a transatlantic joint venture, and as part of that the airlines have just announced some significant expansion for next summer. There are a couple of things that make this interesting, right off the bat:
- In April 2019 Delta announced they’d begin to fly to London Gatwick, though oddly the announcement came around the same time that JetBlue announced they’d start flying to Europe, so in some way it seemed like a scare tactic
- It’s interesting to see new route announcements right now, because Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic have a big new joint venture that should receive final approval shortly (it has already been conditionally approved, and currently Delta has a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, and separately a joint venture with Air France-KLM)
So, what’s happening?
Delta launching Boston to London Gatwick flight
Delta will be launching a daily nonstop flight between Boston and London Gatwick as of May 22, 2020. The flight will operate with the following schedule:
Boston to London Gatwick departing 9:00PM arriving 8:45AM (+1 day)
London Gatwick to Boston departing 10:30AM arriving 1:20PM
This will mark the seventh nonstop transatlantic destination for Delta from Boston.
This also marks the first time that Delta is flying to London Gatwick since 2014. As Delta’s VP Transatlantic describes the new route:
“We’re excited to return to London Gatwick, which is where we launched our first U.K. destination over 40 years ago as well as Manchester, and continue to grow our international network from Boston. Together with Virgin Atlantic, we are strengthening our presence in the northeast U.S. and in London, offering customers a greater choice of destinations combined with the excellent service they can expect from our airlines.”
Virgin Atlantic launching New York to London Gatwick flight
Virgin Atlantic will be launching a daily nonstop flight between New York and London Gatwick as of May 21, 2020. The flight will operate with the following schedule:
New York JFK to London Gatwick departing 7:30PM arriving 7:50AM (+1 day)
London Gatwick to New York JFK departing 12:55PM arriving 3:40PM
This complements their existing flights from New York JFK to London Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic 747-400
Delta launching Boston to Manchester flight
Delta will be launching a daily summer service between Boston and Manchester as of May 21, 2020. The flight will operate with the following schedule:
Boston to Manchester departing 10:00PM arriving 9:30AM (+1 day)
Manchester to Boston departing 11:30AM arriving 2:00PM
Unfortunately Delta will be taking over Virgin Atlantic’s flight here, so this doesn’t entirely represent a capacity increase.
On the plus side, frequencies will be increased from 3x per week to daily, offering an extra 45% capacity compared to this summer.
This will make Manchester Delta’s eighth transatlantic destination from Boston, which further marks their growth in the market. It’s incredible to see how American gave up on Boston years ago, and now Delta is giving JetBlue a real run for their money there.
As before, Virgin Atlantic will operate flights from Manchester to Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Orlando.
Increased frequencies at London Heathrow
In addition to expansion at London Gatwick and Manchester, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will also increase capacity in other markets as of the summer of 2020:
- Between New York JFK and London Heathrow, the two airlines will increase capacity by 15% as of March 29, 2020; the airlines will have a combined eight daily flights between JFK and LHR, including three operated by Delta and five operated by Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin Atlantic will increase frequencies between London Heathrow and Seattle from 7x weekly to 11x weekly
- Virgin Atlantic will increase frequencies between London Heathrow and Los Angeles from 14x weekly to 17x weekly
Virgin Atlantic 787-9
Delta 767-400 & Virgin Atlantic A350 updates
Starting this winter, all Delta flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK and Boston will be operated by reconfigured 767-400s. Now, don’t get too excited.
Delta’s new 767-400 business class
While this product is better than their old 767 business class seats, this is still nowhere close to being as nice as the Delta One Suites, found on A350-900s, A330-900neos, and select 777-200s.
On top of that, Virgin Atlantic is currently in the process of taking delivery of A350-1000s, featuring their new Upper Class seats. As of now the airline has scheduled these to fly exclusively between London and New York.
Virgin Atlantic’s new A350 Upper Class seats
Virgin Atlantic has announced that Los Angeles will be the second destination to receive the A350-1000, as of some point next year.
While I wouldn’t say there’s anything earth-shattering here, these are all around positive updates, including the addition of more flights to Heathrow, as well as expansion to London Gatwick and Manchester.
I am curious about Delta & Virgin Atlantic’s motivation in flying to London Gatwick, though. Historically Virgin Atlantic has used Gatwick as a leisure gateway, so what’s the motivation for flying there from Boston or London? Do they truly view this as a separate market, is this a proactive move against JetBlue, or what?
What do you make of these latest Delta & Virgin Atlantic route updates?