Virgin Atlantic joining Skyteam – what “new routes” can you envisage?

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  • YorkshireTraveller

    Very good points – I happened to ask VS a few months ago whether MAN-LAX was ever to return, they replied and confirmed it will not return. Really sad to not have a single connection outside of London to the west coast of the USA.


    VS already fly MAN-Islamabad.


    [quote quote=1234537]Very good points – I happened to ask VS a few months ago whether MAN-LAX was ever to return, they replied and confirmed it will not return. Really sad to not have a single connection outside of London to the west coast of the USA.[/quote]

    CheamTraveller, that shows how unpredictable aviation is at the present time.

    This route was announced in 2018 as a non-stop service which Tom Otley reported at the time.

    Virgin Atlantic announces direct service from Manchester to Los Angeles

    Then it was suspended during the pandemic.

    The trade press reported in 2021 that its planned restart in 2022 was now postponed until 2023.

    From what you say this route will no longer go ahead.

    In a Virgin press statement last week Virgin Atlantic noted in the first paragraph that Skyteam membership would enable it to “enhance the alliance’s transatlantic network and services to and from London Heathrow and Manchester Airport.”


    Thank you for your recent contributions.

    Before I go on, I think it is important to differentiate between a “triangle “routing and a “tag” terminologies in this discussion.

    A “triangle” routing is for an airline to stop at 2 destinations before returning to the base airport, without one destination being visited twice.

    For example:-

    KLM AMS – Kilimanjaro – Dar Es Salaam – Amsterdam
    AF CDG -Punta Cana – Santo Domingo – CDG
    Brussels Airlines – BRU – Luanda – Kinshasa – BRU

    Advantages of this include serving 2 destinations with one slot, keeping fuel costs down and ideal where one destination has more risk for air crew or the runway is too short for a full load of fuel.


    BA LHR – Nassau – Grand Cayman – Nassau – LHR
    KLM AMS -Singapore – Denpasar/Bali – Singapore – AMS

    Advantages again include serving 2 destinations with one slot but perhaps having rights to sell tickets between the two destinations.

    Markiv J – Thank you for your very detailed, well researched and comprehensive post.

    Re India the demand is vast and in addition re BLR LH use 748s on that route I believe. And as you say BA pre-pandemic applied for 4 more weekly flights, (which had fat more desirable slots – not arriving there about 3-4 in the morning).
    And over the weekend Air India have added more flights to India from LHR as well as from Birmingham, and I think also BA is opening a 3rd Mumbai flight this winter.

    Re USA I see you are keen to see Delta give the routes to partner VS. However I would choose a DL 767 or A330 over a VS 789 any day. But that is my preference. But DL have an advantage over VS in that they still have 767 which enables them to ply routes which VS’s A330/789 might be too big for.
    On routes agree with Austin expanding but like most airlines a 3-4 flights a week starting point is a good way to test the water.
    I also think DL is starting LAX-LHR on their own metal for next Summer, using A330neo.

    Re Canada VS already codeshare with Westjet to cities across Canada, from both LGW and LHR. I wonder if Westjet could also soon join Skyteam as well.

    Agree on your Africa points but re Seychelles and Mauritius think this should be one service, enabling travellers to have twin destination holidays.

    I do wonder if Virgin should go back to LGW for some routes to maximise their LHR slots.

    DavidSmith2 I enjoy your postings and observations from Accra and the BA offerings to/from there. Of course this was a 747 destination before so a high demand route. And your bold idea that Joburg becomes a “tag” to Accra would have merit as I believe (but stand to be corrected) that SAA has had to pull from this route? If so VS could capitalise on that substantial demand 3-4 days a week. Unlikely however.
    Kigali -London is served by Rwandair which will likely be a Oneworld member soon.

    cwoodward I think you are not convinced of the substantial demand that Accra has. In addition to getting BAs largest plane every day, KLM, AF and Brussels Airlines have daily flights – the latter two sometimes as part of a triangle routing.

    And re Casablanca you said it was “something of a Oneworld stronghold” – but Qatar are the only other Oneworld carrier that go there. BA and not even Iberia go there. And RAM use only 737s to London, when they also have 787s in their fleet.
    Their hub is also not ideal for example in connection from UK/Northern Europe to West Africa as they arrive in places like Abidjan, Douala or Libreville at 3-4 in the morning – on 737s. Not attractive when AF and Brussels use A330/777 and arrive late afternoon/evening.
    I think Accra would likely be far more fruitful for slots ex-LHR 3-4 times a week.

    It was good to know Garuda’s intercontinental network but being bankrupt/Chapter 11 who knows what fleet they will have going forward.


    Indeed GRU was aborted when Covid came along, although starting in around April seemed odd timing given that is the Brazilian “Winter” starting then.. But I think the demand is there and indeed could be to additional destinations. I know AF had a route into BSB but wonder if that could come back post pandemic.

    Alex -I agree with you – Korea/Japan etc is not an option for the reasons you cite.

    CheamTraveller – It is sad that this is not coming back. I would have thought that the A330s which are being replaced by A330neos could find a new home in the regions for such routes. I guess an option could be that Delta start to ply this from LAX using their smaller 767s in conjunction with partner VS.

    Another point re BA is that they of course have pulled out of many routes due to the pandemic. Many of these WERE profitable, however remember BA are massively short staffed and can barely handle the current schedule, so this could mean that if VS have the staff resources and slots some routes could be up for grabs…

    2 users thanked author for this post.


    Well another one cut.

    HKG permanently removed:

    “After careful consideration, we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our London Heathrow – Hong Kong services and close our Hong Kong office, after almost 30 years of proudly serving this Asian hub city. Significant operational complexities due to the ongoing Russian airspace closure have contributed to the commercial decision not to resume flights in March 2023 as planned, which have already been paused since December 2021.

    Our people and customers in Hong Kong have been amazing since we first touched down at the famous Kai Tak Airport in 1994 and since then we’ve provided important connectivity between the UK and Hong Kong for thousands of customers and supported global supply chains through our cargo operations.”


    [postquote quote=1235176]

    I can well imagine the author, but it is better to state who handed out that press release so there is no confusion.


    [quote quote=1235176]Alex -I agree with you – Korea/Japan etc is not an option for the reasons you cite.[/quote]

    Thanks sparktflier

    Hence today’s announcement that VS will not be restarting its Hong Kong route. The Russian overflying ban would have played a part in this decision.

    Readers may remember that VS used to have two flights a day between LHR and HKG. One of which would continue to SYD Australia.

    Aircraft type used for LHR-SYD was A340-600.



    Quote was from the Virgin trade email sent this morning.


    Sad to read this news and makes me remember flying VS LHR-HKG (Kai Tak) back in the 90s on an A340-300. I was in economy and it was perhaps my first A340 flight. The service was excellent but do recall how long the 300 series took to get to cruising altitude – ages – unlike the -600. I played the Kula Shaker album on the inflight entertainment system and liked it so much bought the CD within a couple of days.

    But it is interesting that BA could make the route work with no passengers, just cargo, and yet Virgin could not.

    I guess in due course we will find out. Maybe someone at Virgin has read this thread and got some ideas…

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Wonder what VS will do with this free slot! Another USA flight?


    MarkivJ – the daily slot was around 21:00 from LHR so too late for US routes I suggest. So guess Asia, India, Africa or even Latin America. And maybe 2 or even 3 routes. They could also juggle slots with fellow Skyteam members to optimise their collective portfolio.

    Re HKG it was not long ago that you had BA, CX, VS, QF and NZ all having daily (or nearly daily) flights in and out, using 747s with the exception of VS with their 343 or 346.


    I think Seoul Incheon is very likely here. Shanghai is not getting axed even though journeys there are now much longer but probably makes sense with Cargo and connectivity as a Skyteam hub.
    ICN ist a Skyteam hub and has alot of Delta frequency. LHR-ICN is also a monopoly for Korean Air and Asiana (not unless BA has announced plans to run the route). VS would get alot of connecting options to Asia and Australia.


    sparkyflier – perhaps add a 2nd freq to JNB then?


    Tim, you have mentioned on the forum more than once re HK ‘Well another one cut.’ etc indicating that many airlines have permanently cut HKG from their schedules for reasons other than their own difficulties or the Ukraine situation.
    I would be interested to know which are these airlines.

    I have seen several airlines that have previously not flown scheduled flights here entering the market recently and many advising that they are restarting their scheduled flights but not V V in recent months.

    Interestingly there are continuing rumours in AU that the reconstituted Virgin Australia (new ownership) are intending to fly to HKG in 2023. Only rumours but they are persistent although the airlines public stance is that there are no immediate plans for the brand to fly long-haul.


    LetsFlyNow – interesting thought. One thought that occurred to me is that Korean and taking over Asiana/merging. Asiana also have slots leaving LHR in the evening. I Have not been following that merger in detail but wonder if Korean would want both slots, and if not, lease the other slot to Virgin to do whatever they wanted with it. Also Korean could perhaps use the A380 to LHR to “replace” the 77W that they use and A350 that Asiana us.

    Markivj – good thought – especially in the short term to cover the busy period from Christmas to Easter and southern hemisphere Summer season. I hope they do something more exciting though. But 3 more flights to Joburg could tick that box leaving 4 weekly slots for a GRU/ACC/NBO/BLR/HKT/BKK/SIN/ICN/MLE etc.

    I guess we will will not have to wait too long as airlines usually like 5-6 months before a long haul route launch in order to start marketing it.

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