Virgin Atlantic to fly B787-9 to Boston

22 Jun 2014 by GrahamSmith

Virgin Atlantic has announced that the inaugural route for its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be between London Heathrow and Boston.

The six-times weekly service will launch on October 28, with subsequent routes between LHR and Washington, Newark and New York JFK to follow.

The carrier is due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late September. It will be the first European airline to receive the larger B787-9 version of the aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic B787-9

Virgin Atlantic's Dreamliner will be configured in three classes with 31 seats in Upper Class (business), 35 in Premium Economy and 198 in Economy.

The news was unveiled as the airline today celebrates its 30th birthday.

On June 22, 1984, Virgin Atlantic's inaugural flight took off from Gatwick bound for Newark. The B747-200 — registration G-VIRG and called Maiden Voyager — was packed with celebrities and the media.

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger said: "We are extremely excited to be welcoming this aircraft to our fleet. After 30 proud years of serving our customers around the world, this is going to revolutionise our airline and bring with it new innovations and a cutting edge product for them to enjoy.

"The 787-9 will make up 40 per cent of our fleet by the end of 2017 which demonstrates our commitment to the Dreamliner as the centrepiece of our future fleet. We're looking forward to the next 30 years."

The airline's 30th birthday comes shortly after Virgin Altantic started its transatlantic joint venture with Delta Air Lines this summer (see news, November 2013).

Reuben Arnold, Virgin Atlantic's director of brand customer experience, told Business Traveller: "Delta, for us and for our customers, is a great opportunity because it opens up a much wider network for our customers over the Atlantic.

"We're still very much Virgin Atlantic and Delta. We're not looking to create a third brand or to dilute our product offering, but what we are looking to do is how do you make the experience as seamless as possible.

"Delta is a great opportunity for us. It means we have better flexibility and choice for our customers, [not just] on the transatlantic route but also the whole of the US. It's so much more accessible now for our customers."

Arnold also said there are no plans to change strategy on Virgin Altantic's domestic subsidiary Little Red, despite reports of poor passenger loads (see news, November 2013).

He said: "Little Red is just over a year old and we're actually very pleased with the progress it's making. It's absolutely in line with where we expect it to be...

"We would never expect in the first year of operation to fill every flight. And it's gaining momentum since it started."

Graham Smith

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