Virgin Atlantic launches new Tampa-London route
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The flights, announced Wednesday, will operate year-round, beginning with service four times a week and expanding to daily flights as of Nov. 28. Tickets go on sale July 13, with basic economy fares starting at about $520, according to Virgin’s announcement.
“We are delighted to continue our expansion in the U.S. with this new daily service to Tampa, Florida, offering even more choice for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the U.S. and the U.K.,” Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, said in a statement.
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New flights a boon for Florida tourism — and London connections
The expansion is welcome news for Florida passengers looking for direct flights to England, but also for the increased opportunities to make connections for farther destinations.
Currently, only British Airways operates flights from Tampa to London, but the carrier flies to London Gatwick Airport (LGW), which lacks the connections that Heathrow offers to passengers.
These new Virgin Atlantic flights via Heathrow will provide Tampa passengers with better service to long-haul destinations such as Cape Town, Hong Kong and Mumbai, India.
Virgin says its daily service will serve 190,000 passengers annually, supported by the strong popularity of Florida as a destination for British travelers and a large Tampa Bay-area expat community.
Local tourism officials are delighted with the announcement.
“Expanding flight options and exposure to destinations throughout Florida is vital to maintaining and strengthening the U.K.’s position as our No. 1 market for overseas visitation,” said Visit Florida CEO Dana Young in a statement.
Tampa’s airport authority also struck an optimistic tone about the service.
“We at Tampa International Airport are thrilled to offer our first-ever nonstop route to Heathrow and launch this new partnership with Virgin Atlantic,” said Joe Lopano, TPA’s CEO.
“Not only does this create another Tampa-London option for our leisure travelers, but there’s a huge upside for our thriving business community to now have a direct connection to the world’s premier business airport. We expect this to be a popular route during what we know will be a very busy winter travel season at TPA.”
Virgin to fly 787-9 Dreamliner on new route
Virgin will fly 258-seat Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the route.
Virgin has configured the planes to seat 192 economy passengers, 35 Premium passengers and 31 Upper Class passengers. Economy fares will start at about $520, Premium fares begin at about $1,115, and Upper Class will start at about $2,686 per person, according to the Virgin Atlantic announcement.
Virgin Atlantic will also offer package Florida vacation deals for inbound passengers.
Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles passengers will benefit from the announcement thanks to the airline’s joint venture partnership with Virgin. SkyMiles passengers can earn at least 4,400 miles on the flight.
Flight time is scheduled to be about 10 hours on the westbound leg and eight hours, 25 minutes on the eastbound. The flights will be (all times local):
- VS129, departing London at 1:25 p.m. and arriving in Tampa at 6:35 p.m.
- VS130, departing Tampa at 8:50 p.m. and arriving in London at 10:15 a.m. the following day.
This will be Virgin Atlantic’s second new U.S. destination added for this year. In January, it announced a new Austin service with flights beginning in May.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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