Virgin Atlantic will launch three-times weekly flights between Manchester and Delhi this October.

VS318 will depart Manchester at 1640 on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, landing the following morning at 0605. The return, VS319, will depart at 0810 on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, landing at 1210.

The route begins on October 26, with flights on sale from March 3.

Flights will be operated by an A330-200 with economy, premium economy and business class cabins.

The airline’s four A330-200 aircraft initially entered service in 2018 without Virgin Atlantic seats and interiors, but a retrofit of the fleet has now been completed.

The Manchester-Delhi route will join Virgin’s double daily flights between Heathrow and Delhi, and its recently-relaunched daily flights between Heathrow and Mumbai.

India’s Jet Airways launched Manchester-Mumbai flights in November 2018, but cancelled them in March 2019 ahead of its collapse in April 2019.

Virgin has been focusing on increasing its presence at Manchester Airport, which is currently undergoing a £1 billion expansion that will see it grow by 50 per cent. The first major phase of the project – including a rebuilt Terminal 2 plus new roads and a car park – is set to open to the public this summer.

Virgin has announced plans to open its first Clubhouse at the airport this summer.

Virgin Atlantic to open Clubhouse at Manchester Airport

It will also be increasing summer capacity on several routes from Manchester.

Virgin’s joint venture partner Delta will return to Manchester, 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.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer, commented: “2020 is an extremely exciting year of continued growth for Virgin Atlantic and increasing our presence out of Manchester is a huge focus for us.

“2020 marks our 20th anniversary of flying to India and as the destination continues to grow in popularity for both business and leisure travel, we’re thrilled to fly to Delhi for very first time from Manchester, our home in the north.

“Additionally, we look forward launching new services from Heathrow to Sao Paulo and Cape Town as well as increasing capacity on our Heathrow to Havana route.”

Jarvinen added: “This year will also see Flybe transform into Virgin Connect, and we’re excited to offer customers flying from the north 47 daily flights throughout the UK, Ireland and across Europe.”

Flybe has faced severe financial difficulties this year, despite being acquired by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium in 2019.

In January, the airline asked the government to defer a £10 million air passenger duty tax bill to help keep it afloat, and reportedly asked airports to give it extra time to find millions of pounds it owes in unpaid landing fees.