Virgin Atlantic will offer more flights to Orlando, Barbados and Las Vegas from Manchester in summer 2020.
The leisure-oriented routes will have 43,000 additional seats, 11 per cent more than in summer 2019, through additional frequencies.
The Barbados route will increase from twice a week to three times a week, Las Vegas will increase from four to six times weekly and Orlando will increase from 12 to 14 weekly flights.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin’s head of commercial, said it was the “latest phase in [the airline’s] growth strategy at Manchester, our home in the North”.
Although not confirmed by Virgin, the slots may have become available due to the collapse of Thomas Cook; Virgin’s European vice president, commercial Juha Jarvinen, recently said the leisure carrier’s “demise gives us an opportunity”.
Bloomberg reports that Thomas Cook had around 24 daily slot pairs in the summer season, 8 per cent of the total compared with Virgin’s 1.5 per cent.
Growing its presence at Manchester is a key part of Virgin’s current strategy under CEO Shai Weiss, particularly since its takeover of regional airline Flybe, which will be rebranded as Virgin Connect next year to provide opportunities to feed passengers into its hubs.
Virgin’s joint venture partner Delta will return to Manchester next summer, with a peak-summer seasonal service to Boston launching on May 21, 2020.
It will take over Virgin’s current operations on the route, and increase frequency from three flights per week to daily.
Virgin recently announced will open its first Clubhouse lounge at Manchester next year.
The carrier operates out of Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2, which is currently undergoing a huge renovation and expansion project that will see it double in size.
A new entrance, security hall, access road, car park, departure area and lounge spaces are set to open in mid-2020, at which point the rest of the terminal will close for a two-year renovation.
By 2024, all flights out of Manchester will be flying from Terminal 2 and a refreshed Terminal 3, after which Terminal 1 will be demolished.
It has also just opened a pay-to-access private terminal, with access starting from £50. Virgin announced today that it is one of the terminal’s airline partners.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s EVP for commercial, commented:
“Today’s announcement outlines the latest phase in our growth strategy at Manchester, our home in the North.
“In September we committed to 30,000 additional seats from Manchester for Winter 2019 and today, we are expanding on that with an extra 43,000 seats to key leisure destinations for Summer 2020, which is a clear sign of our ambition to offer increased choice to our customers travelling from the North West.
“With a greater number of flights to some of our most popular destinations, alongside a brand new iconic Clubhouse scheduled to open next spring, we’re confident our customers will be delighted by the Virgin Atlantic experience in Manchester.”