In preparation for the busy 2020 summer travel season, Virgin Atlantic has announced four new routes for its newest flagship aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000 XWB. Having started service with the airline on the London-New York JFK route, next year will see the aircraft expand to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Lagos from London.
Johannesburg will be the first city beyond New York to receive Airbus A350-1000 service from Virgin Atlantic beginning in March 2020 with daily service. Though normally receiving double daily service, the route will revert to once daily during the summer beginning March 29, the official start of the season according to the International Air Transport Association.
Los Angeles will be the next recipient, with Virgin first making the announcement earlier this year in August. As one of its most popular routes, Virgin operates up to three flights per day between London and Los Angeles, all with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, though it is yet to be announced which daily service will receive the upgrade.
In addition to receiving the aircraft on a daily basis, San Francisco will see its current daily service to London on Virgin doubled with the A350 operating the second daily flight, which begins in May. Virgin will become the second carrier to grace the city with the Airbus A350-1000 behind Cathay Pacific which has sent its A350 to San Francisco in the past.
Nigeria will also become the first West African country to receive scheduled Airbus A350-1000 service in August when Virgin Atlantic begins daily service with the aircraft. The A350 will replace the Airbus A330-300 on the airline’s second shortest route behind the newly-launched London-Tel Aviv route and offer a modern alternative to the aging Boeing 747-400s that British Airways operates on the route.
The cities will be upgraded from the airline’s former flagship to its newest as they currently see Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service, with the exception of Lagos which is served with an Airbus A330. As the aircraft is still new to the skies with only a handful of operators, many of the cities will also be receiving their first scheduled Airbus A350-1000 service once Virgin begins the services.
The switch will maximize profits, especially in the premium cabins, as the aircraft boasts a capacity upgrade of 77 seats comprised of 43 additional economy seats, 21 premium economy seats and 13 business class seats. All cabins of the aircraft, particularly Upper Class business class, received brand new onboard products that greatly differ from even the newest Dreamliners.
Virgin Atlantic currently has four A350s in service with the remaining 12 to be delivered to the airline by 2021. AirlineGeeks flew on the aircraft in September on one of its first flights between London and New York.
The airline is also doubling down on India service with an additional daily service to Delhi, one of two Indian destinations in addition to newly-launched Mumbai service. The airline joins joint venture partner Delta Air Lines who is also adding Mumbai service with a new flight from New York in December.
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