Virgin Atlantic’s Summer 2021 Schedule

Filed Under: Virgin Atlantic

While Virgin Atlantic continues to be on the brink of collapse as the airline looks for new investors, that’s not stopping the company from doing some network planning for the future.

With the summer of 2020 expected to see very little travel, Virgin Atlantic has just published planned routes for the summer of 2021.

Virgin Atlantic’s summer 2021 flying program

Last week Virgin Atlantic announced a significant restructuring, as the airline plans to retire all Boeing 747-400s, pull out of Gatwick Airport altogether, and lay off around 3,150 staff.

Virgin Atlantic 747Virgin Atlantic is retiring the 747

Given that the airline is scaling back, Virgin Atlantic will also have to adjust their route network long-term to account for that, and today we have a glimpse of what that will look like.

With this new schedule, a vast majority of Virgin Atlantic flights will operate out of Heathrow, with a significant flying schedule out of Manchester as well, and even some summer seasonal flights from Belfast and Glasgow.

Now let’s take a look at the routes that Virgin Atlantic hopes to operate as of March 28, 2021 (the new schedule is expected to be on sale as of May 16, 2020).

Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow flights

In the summer of 2021, Virgin Atlantic will operate flights from London Heathrow to the following destinations:

  • Antigua
  • Atlanta
  • Barbados
  • Boston
  • Cape Town
  • Delhi
  • Grenada
  • Havana
  • Hong Kong
  • Johannesburg
  • Lagos
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montego Bay
  • Mumbai
  • New York JFK
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Shanghai
  • Tobago
  • Tel Aviv
  • Washington

A few interesting notes:

  • Virgin Atlantic is maintaining all current US destinations, with the exception of Newark (though Virgin Atlantic pulling out of Newark was previously announced)
  • All of Virgin Atlantic’s Caribbean flying used to be out of Gatwick, and a surprising amount of it is being maintained with the shift to Heathrow
  • Tel Aviv is a new destination for Virgin Atlantic as of 2019, and the airline will fly there twice daily next summer

Virgin Atlantic is increasing flights to Tel Aviv

Virgin Atlantic’s Manchester flights

In the summer of 2021, Virgin Atlantic will operate flights from Manchester to the following destinations:

  • Atlanta
  • Barbados
  • Los Angeles
  • New York JFK
  • Orlando

Virgin Atlantic will fly to four US destinations from Manchester

Virgin Atlantic’s Belfast & Glasgow flights

In addition to key routes out of London Heathrow and Manchester, Virgin Atlantic will also offer summer seasonal flights from Belfast and Glasgow to Orlando.

Virgin Atlantic will fly to Orlando from four gateways

Bottom line

While this presumably remains highly subject to change, it’s interesting to see what Virgin Atlantic’s future route network looks like without 747s and without Gatwick.

The airline is maintaining all US destinations (though presumably with reduced frequencies), and is also maintaining quite a bit of Caribbean service, which was previously operated out of Gatwick.

I’m surprised by how few destination cuts there are, given the extent to which the airline is shrinking. I guess that means we should expect big frequency reductions in some markets.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s summer 2021 schedule?

  1. How did Virgin Atlantic get all those extra Heathrow slots? If they didn’t get extra Heathrow slots then my guess is they’ll be making some route changes and will be cutting other destinations from LHR.

  2. @Joey That depends on frequency. A lot of these are Caribbean destinations that might be two or three times a week at best during the summer. As well there used to be, what, five flights a day to JFK? They could go down to twice daily in the summer easily.

    Honestly, I am surprised they are even considering the Caribbean at all over the summer. Leisure markets during off peak season in the middle of Covid19 seems like an ambitious plan.

  3. I wonder if this will change. UK people are not allowed to enter the US currently, except for those with certain visas and greencards. Hard to imagine these fights happening if things don’t change.

  4. Interesting that LAS-MAN is getting cut. I’d like a little more decision-making about what they anticipate flying in Summer 2020, if anything, assuming the UK may open up a little more in August.

  5. I can tell you for certain that no airline currently has a clue what they’re doing next month, let alone next summer. They didn’t just stumble upon a bunch of heathrow slots to make this happen. Wouldn’t read too much into it.

  6. @Stuart

    You need to understand first of all that the Caribbean islands are all former colonies of the U.K. so there is much history and familiarity of the islands by U.K. residents . Barbados in particular is a very large market commanding daily year round flights on both BA and Virgin and double daily in winter so by no means is the Caribbean all low yield trash. FYI during the days of the Concorde Barbados was the one of very few possibly the only one outside JFK and IAD that had regularly scheduled flights. Just so you know.

    If you knew the history and geography between the U.K. and English speaking Caribbean you would have a better understanding.

    It won’t take much to serve the islands . Two or three flights from LHR will cover the islands as the smaller ones are served as tag ons. So not a big deal.

  7. If VS want people to book trips for next summer they should process refunds for the thousands of customers who didn’t take a credit note or offer of open ticket for the cancelled trips this year, they are advising customers it will take upto 90 days to receive a refund, many won’t book until they cough up.

  8. Orlando used to get up to 3 daily flights in the summer from Gatwick on 747’s/A330’s, up to 2 daily 747’s from Manchester, and one from Belfast and Glasgow. All of those routes will get smaller aircraft now and I think we’ll see 1x MAN service and perhaps up to 2x Heathrow service.

    Also, while looking at flights around for fun, it seems Virgin put their A350-1000 on their Atlanta route for the rest of the schedule. At least that is what it shows on their site.

  9. Thats such great news that Tel Aviv will receive double daily service, it’s such a great destination.

    Will they scale back flying to NYC, since they have pulled out of EWR?

  10. The TLV 2x daily move might be prudent. There is always a load of traffic originating in the USA., transferring to TLV. The Virgin connection previously involved a transfer lag approaching 6 hours. This might let them shorten the wait which will spur more transatlantic traffic to meet these TLV flights. Had they just rescheduled their single flight to meet the incoming flights from the USA they would then have either an aircraft waiting in Israel for 16 hours or pax returning to the US having to overnight in LHR.

  11. @ Stuart,

    What has always surprised me is why Virgin has such limited presence in the Indian subcontinent. Mumbai/Delhi/Bangalore/Karachi/Lahore/Dhaka/Colombo- all huge cities with large flying public and presence in the US.

  12. So disappointed Man – Vegas is not available in 2021. We had 2 trips booked for 2020, obviously May didnt happen, Sept will probably also be cancelled. The South always wins over North West.

  13. Ah, 2021! I swear I need new glasses. I thought was this summer and was thinking this was ambitious.

  14. @ryby. Thanks for explaining to me a history that I am very well aware of. And your point? I would be willing that all of these destinations are 80% leisure to the Caribbean. And I think I said exactly the same as you in that they can be served a few times a week at best.

  15. This news should thrill all your blog’s lemming readers who aren’t going to leave their homes (let alone fly) again #UntilItsSafe

  16. The South Asian diaspora is very evident in the UK. In addition to already scheduled flights to INDIA (Delhi and Mumbai)….PAKISTAN (Islamabad and Lahore) would be a viable destination.

  17. I’d like to know where they intend to fly to in September. I need to get from Seattle to LHR with one of their open deferred vouchers.

  18. I’m very disappointed that the MAN-VEGAS route appears to be cancelled for 2021. The flights from Manchester were always full. We are due to go this Sept and as that is looking doubtful now (not that I really fancy going at the moment anyway) we were planning to put it off for 12 months then go. Looks like it’s going to be a refund then.

  19. I’m more afraid of trigger happy police or NRA crazies than illness when going to Trumpistan. Which is why I don’t go to Trumpistan. Canada and Mexico are much more enjoyable, and you’re not treated as a criminal by their local versions of CBP.

  20. @ Wilhelm

    And we miss you dearly.

    p.s. Did you also call it Obamaistan? Or has there been a sudden influx of immigrants over the past few years which has occasioned the name change?

  21. @Stuart Virgin is a predominately leisure airline so the Caribbean would fit their profile perfectly. Some seem to perceive that leisure equal trash yield but rich folks also take vacations too. And the pointy end of the plane is always full.

    My point is that you seemed “surprised” that they are returning to the Caribbean but the region has been a historically money maker for both BA and VS. And the release spoke about summer 2021.So why the surprise?

  22. Is it really best to retire the 747, it is far more economy and premium economy heavy than the newer Planes which are very business and premium class skewed with proportionately small economy sections .

  23. @Frederik
    No one makes money off economy. The purpose of economy is to not let the plane go empty, but business and premium are where the money is at. If an airline could reliably fill its planes with all business class seats, it would do so.

  24. We have booked Orlando for October 2021 flying from Manchester, and they have now retired the 747’s from their fleet.
    It will be interesting to see which planes they will replace the 747’s, will it be the oldest planes in the fleet or some of the newer ones.
    Historically Manchester have had the oldest aircraft operating from this airport.
    We were told that the flight was almost full, so was that to push sales or was it true. If true none of the newer place have the capacity of the 747’s, so will passengers be bumped to other days.

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