Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic announced changes to their respective summer 2017 schedules to optimise their joint network between the US and the UK. The move reflects the strong partnership between the two airlines, which is focused on offering customers more travel choices and flexibility, the duo said.
The changes include, on Delta’s side: A new four times a week London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon seasonal service will begin on 26 May 2017, the first between this US West Coast city and London; beginning 26 March 2017, the airline will add a second London Heathrow to Detroit service. This new flight replaces Virgin Atlantic’s daily Detroit to London Heathrow service.
The airline will fly a third London Heathrow to Atlanta frequency, taking over the second daily service currently operated by Virgin Atlantic, beginning 25 May 2017. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate one daily London Heathrow to Atlanta service.
For Virgin Atlantic: Beginning 26 March 2017, the airline will start flying daily between London Heathrow and Seattle, replacing the service currently operated by Delta. A daily nonstop service between Manchester and New York-JFK will commence 25 May 2017 replacing the service currently operated by Delta. Delta will resume service for the winter 2017.
Speaking about the announcement, John Lloyd, senior VP, Cargo, Virgin Atlantic, said: “The changes we are making are really good news for our customers and reinforce our strong transatlantic service offering. Seattle is a top 15 import/export market for cargo between the UK and US and is an important and growing market for many of our customers so we hope to earn a healthy share of this business.
“By increasing our commitment to Manchester, we will also be reducing the need for customers in the North of England and Scotland to have to truck cargo to London, which is going to save them time and money. We’re making it even easier for them to do business with Virgin Atlantic, and the same is true for customers in New York where there is strong demand for cargo capacity to Manchester.”
Erik Varwijk, executive VP, commercial, Virgin Atlantic added: “We are delighted to further optimise our joint services between the UK and the USA. Our most fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft will add additional capacity to the successful Seattle route, enabling more customers to enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this brand new aircraft.
“In Manchester, deploying our A330-300 aircraft on this route will allow us to further meet the growing demand from the Manchester market, now offering a total of six direct flights to the US after the recently announced new services to Boston and San Francisco. The network changes highlight the strength and flexibility of our joint venture, allowing us to make smart decisions that ensure the right aircraft are on the right routes for our customers.”
Commenting on the changes, Dwight James, Delta’s senior VP trans-Atlantic said: “Adding a brand new service to Portland while increasing the scale of Delta’s reach across our Atlanta and Detroit hubs provides a comprehensive network of nonstop and connecting destinations for both Delta and Virgin customers.
“The flexibility to adjust our operations on routes between the UK and the USA is a solid reflection of the cohesive strategy we have across the trans-Atlantic. Since 2014, we have been building a partnership that is centred around the needs of our customers while providing network synergies for our airlines.”
Beginning 26 March 2017, the airlines’ joint summer 2017 schedule includes a total of 42 peak daily nonstop flights between the US and the UK. Of these, 28 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular US. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington and 14 flights will operate between Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, London Gatwick and Edinburgh to popular US cities.
The two said their joint venture partnership continues to grow, allowing both airlines’ customers to benefit from a high-quality and complementary travel experience with customer service being a key priority. In 2015, the JV connected almost 400,000 customers to over 200 destinations in the US, on over 550 routes.