Delta Takes Over Flights as Virgin Atlantic Grounds Dreamliners
Virgin Atlantic has been forced to ground some of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft to fix an ongoing engine issue. So, while those planes are out of service, Virgin Atlantic is relying on Delta to fly some of its passengers to and from Europe. According to a Bloomberg report, Delta will operate one daily nonstop flight between London Heathrow (LHR) and New York (JFK) on behalf of its joint-venture partner through October 31, 2017.
In August, Dreamliner engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce said that as many as 500 Trent 1000s would have to undergo maintenance earlier than anticipated. The fan blade issue was first identified by ANA in 2016, and has forced Virgin to take some of its 787s out of service for urgent repairs.
While those planes are on the ground, Virgin is relying on Delta to transport to its passengers. As of this Thursday, Delta's been flying 767s between JFK and LHR for Virgin Atlantic — the carrier may upgrade to a 777 for some flights.
"It's a substitution that gives us a little bit more resilience as we've had some parts issues with our 787 engines," Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger explained in an interview with Bloomberg. "This ensures that we'll have sufficient capacity. It's circumstantial, it's not a strategy."
In all, Virgin Atlantic has a total of 13 787s in its fleet. It took some of those aircraft out of service for this same repair in April, and now it's pulling more planes out of the sky in order to get the issue fixed. Rolls-Royce said that not all 787 engines will need the fix.
Back in 2012, Delta bought a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic. In a statement, Delta said the route changes "show the benefit of the Delta and Virgin Atlantic partnership and how we work together."