Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will withdraw flights between Dubai and London Heathrow from March 31, 2019.
After reviewing its network, the airline has decided the route is no longer economically viable.
Shai Weiss, chief commercial officer for Virgin Atlantic, said: “It‘s never an easy decision to withdraw a route, and we’d like to thank our customers and dedicated team in Dubai for their loyalty over the last 12 years.”
BT Middle East’s Dominic Ellis says, “This is a big blow for Virgin in the Gulf, and many travellers, particularly UK executives and British expats, will be disappointed at the decision. There is a ‘Virgin way’ that mixes competency with informality, and many will regret that consumer choice is lessened next April, not to mention that LHR outbound passengers will now have to find alternative ways to while away their time in T3 beyond the superlative Clubhouse.
“I flew Upper Class on the B787-9 Dreamliner a few months ago and liked the new-look cabin, seating and bar, and I had a sense that, for all the competitive pressures, the airline was holding its own.
“But clearly with Emirates now serving Stansted alongside Heathrow and Gatwick, and BA nearby on the Concourse D stands too, the yields are no longer sustainable.”
Business Traveller’s Alex McWhirter adds: “As readers know, US airline Delta owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic. And nowadays it is Delta who holds the Virgin Atlantic purse strings.
“With its single daily flight between Dubai and London Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic is outgunned by both Emirates and British Airways (BA).
“BA flies up to three times a day into London Heathrow from Dubai. Its flights are both overnight and during the day. That means BA can better exploit the many dozens of connecting opportunities at its hub airport. These will be to domestic and European destinations together with a range of long-haul services to Africa, the Caribbean and both North and South America.
“Emirates operates many daily flights and these operate to three London airports (plus a number of UK regional points): Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. It also has the priceless advantage of dozens of flights which feed its ex-Dubai services.
“It is true that Virgin Atlantic also offers domestic connections using Flybe but these operate only to Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Virgin Atlantic’s main connections would be those transatlantic services operated either itself or in conjunction with Delta.
“But will the latter be worthwhile to Delta? It has been reported in the Gulf that Delta is planning to restart US to Dubai service (this was dropped in 2016).”
Customers will still be able to book tickets for the daily flight until it finishes on March 31.
Virgin’s Heathrow-Dubai route was launched in March 2006.