Virgin Atlantic to postpone Sao Paulo routeBack to Forum
The news has not officially been confirmeed at time of writing …
But reliable trade sources indicate that Virgin Atlantic will postpone its Sao Paulo route, which was supposed to launch in May 2024, to summer 2025.
This route from London is/was supposed to be a daily non-stop flight.
Readers may remember that this route was also postponed by Virgin Atlantic in 2020.
Official confirmation is awaited. Flights remain bookable on the VS website.
Here’s our news piece from last August.16 Nov 2023
Thank you Alex for this. If true it is disappointing, but frankly VS were launching at the wrong time of the year. There is a HUGE Brazilian diaspora in UK and EU who would be happy to fly Virgin to Sao Paulo and then either stay there or connect to anywhere else in Brazil.
But they will want to go in the Northern Winter period for Christmas, New Year, Carnival etc – when it is Summer there. They do NOT want to go in the Northern Summer and would want to stay in Europe.
Remember in Brazil in their winter it can get cold, especially in the south and snow can even happen in Santa Catarina island (Florianopolis).
Brazilians in UK are of all income levels and so there would be demand for all cabins, but launching the route at that time of year is foolish IMO.
At the least this could be a seasonal route for them – but Oct-April.
In the early-mid 2010s BA were looking at GRU being a A380 route, but the airport did not it seems have facilities to manage that aircraft (did not stop EK however).
If this story is true to becomes harder to take VS seriously and book with confidence with them.16 Nov 2023
Hello sparkyflier – I now understand this news is true.
VS confirmed it to the travel trade earlier today.
Mark will check the PR at VS to see if it can confirm.
What must confuse customers is that the flights remain displayed on the carrier’s website. (at 14.20 hrs today)16 Nov 2023
I think Virgin is losing credibility on this. I doubt they will ever launch the route. Postponing once is disappointing. Twice, a PR disaster. But Virgin being Virgin I will imagine they will spin it so it is some other airline/regulatory body/airports fault.16 Nov 2023
Hi – the Virgin press office has confirmed the postponement. I will write a news story on this for tomorrow morning, but the statement includes a quote from Juha Jarvinen, who says:
“We are thrilled to begin flying to São Paulo. It’s the gateway to South America and signifies an incredibly exciting opportunity for us.
“We regularly review our network to ensure it’s as strong and efficient as possible. Following a review of our upcoming flying programme for 2024, we will be moving the start of our highly anticipated Sao Paulo services to 2025.”16 Nov 2023
As expected, the Virgin press machine gone into stupid upside down talk.
‘We are thrilled to begin flying to São Paulo. It’s the gateway to South America and signifies an incredibly exciting opportunity for us.’
Who in their right mind would release a statement that is delaying their ‘hotly anticipated’ route to some non specified date (maybe in the following year but who knows) with ‘we are thrilled to begin flying to Sao Paulo’? Absolutely ridiculous.
‘Following a review of our upcoming flying programme for 2024’
Will be interesting to see what specific reason they give. GRU has now been planned in the 2024 flying programme since September. It isn’t like there is all of a sudden a shortage of aircraft at VS.
I will take bets on what comes first – Virgin flying to Sao Paulo or Lufthansa launching Allegris on an actual aircraft.16 Nov 2023
Oh dear. If I was a Chief Commercial Officer, I’m not sure I’d want my name attached to such a mindlessly inept statement. You’d perhaps think someone with that level of seniority might use slightly more measured words?!
Me thinks someone in the press office may have got a little carried away.
In the last para, if they’d swapped the words review for enhance and then enhancement, it could have been straight out of the BA playbook…16 Nov 2023
sparkyflier – “If this story is true to becomes harder to take VS seriously and book with confidence with them.”
I stopped taking them seriously back in 2018 itself. Just 2 years after launching daily to Seattle, the amount of schedule and aircraft changes they had every year was so ridiculous. Total lack of predictability, and also messed up my connections in Heathrow as the flight timings would change from when I booked to the actual travel day and I’d end up missing my connecting flight. For corporate travel, every day counts and having to have offsite clients cancel or move meetings because of VS flight changes was getting annoying.
These days, I only only ever fly them on deep discount economy these days, and that too only on vacation and only to London when I’m ok to have delays or flight changes.
I’m aware BA in general gets a lot of flak, but at least they’re consistent and predictable in terms of routes and schedules/timings.16 Nov 2023
With what can only be described as the ‘slow demise’ of Virgin there seems to me to be an opening and possibly growing demand for a new ‘proper scheduled long-haul airline” in the UK ?
What is the chance of a well founded start-up in then UK? Or is all of the obviously available non BA business going to leak to LCCs and major European airlines for want of choice.
To my mind it would need to be some sort of consortium of established airlines with new outside funding added.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this or is this just a non-starter ?17 Nov 2023
One could argue a consortium has already done this with Virgin, it has been basically taken over by Skyteam, with Delta, Air France/KLM taking stakes. The issue with the creation of a new entity is how would it ever gain scale. LHR is full, until LHR expands, I don’t see any real scaleable new UK-based carrier, you will have fringe start-ups like Global, the UK arguably already has the most competitive and dynamic aviation market in Europe, if not the world, with foreign carriers like Norse/Norweigan/Wizz/Aer Lingus/Ryanair operating hubs at places like Gatwick/Manchester/Stansted.17 Nov 2023
The big problem Virgin will always have with launching routes like Sao Paulo is they are a London-centric airline with little inward feed.
Yes, BA flies daily from LHR to GRU. Yes, those flights are consistently full. But, if you were to take one of those flights you would probably notice that the overwhelming majority of fellow passengers are not brits travelling from the UK to Sao Paulo but are people originating in european cities and flying via LHR. Virgin doesn’t have access to these markets. Whilst being part of SkyTeam may help them out a little, their partners will likely be sending Brazil bound traffic via AMS with KL or CDG with AF.17 Nov 2023
As Rferguson2 notes it is the sixth-freedom/transfer traffic which makes all the difference.
Not only does Virgin lack onward connections at LHR (AF/KL excepted but that means a change of terminal) but it doesn’t have its own domestic feed.
Some years ago it launched Little Red for domestic feed but that airline (whose aircraft were leased from Aer Lingus) did not last.
For a while Virgin would use Flybe (another, albeit easier terminal change) but both Flybe 1 and Flybe 2 failed.
US airline Delta now holds the purse strings.
What benefit can GRU bring to the Delta network ?17 Nov 2023