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The airline was established in as British Atlantic Airways , and was originally planned by its co-founders Randolph Fields and Alan Hellary to fly between London and the Falkland Islands.
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The airline was established in as British Atlantic Airways , and was originally planned by its co-founders Randolph Fields and Alan Hellary to fly between London and the Falkland Islands. Soon after changing the name to Virgin Atlantic Airways, Fields sold his shares in the company after disagreements with Sir Richard Branson over the management of the company. It is administratively separate from other Virgin-branded airlines. Virgin Atlantic uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and operates to destinations in North America, the Caribbean , Africa, the Middle East and Asia from its main bases in London Heathrow and Gatwick , and its secondary base at Manchester.
The airline also operates seasonal flights from Glasgow and Belfast. Virgin Atlantic aircraft consist of three cabins: Economy, Premium formerly Premium economy  and Upper Class business. In , Virgin Atlantic carried 5. Virgin Atlantic has its origins in a joint endeavour by Randolph Fields , an American-born lawyer, and Alan Hellary , a former chief pilot for British private airline Laker Airways.
Following the collapse of Laker Airways in , Field and Hellary decided to establish a new company, initially named British Atlantic Airways , as a successor. In turn, Hellary was in contact with several out-of-work colleagues from the collapse of Laker Airways; as such, the pair decided to refine their ambitions.
However, it was soon determined that the short runway at Port Stanley Airport , and the time it would take to improve it, would render a route to the Falklands commercially unviable, thus the idea of such a service was dropped. During May , a three-day inquiry was conducted, which chose to reject the application following objections from British Airways , British Caledonian and BAA. Fields met British entrepreneur Richard Branson at a party in London during which he proposed a business partnership.
As a result of a High Court action, this additional payment was received shortly before Fields' death in From the onset, its activities were augmented by leveraging existing Virgin Group resources, such as tickets being sold at Virgin Megastores record shops. Part of Richard Branson's declared approach to business is to either succeed within the first year or exit the market; this ethos includes a one-year limit being expressed upon everything associated with starting up operations.
The firm had timed its operations to take advantage of a full summer, from June to September, which was typically the most profitable period of the year. During , Virgin Atlantic launched a service between Luton and Dublin using secondhand Viscount turboprop aircraft, but this route was withdrawn around In , Virgin was given permission to operate from Heathrow following the abolition of the London Air Traffic Distribution Rules TDRs which had governed the distribution of traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick airports since , primarily to bolster the profitability of Gatwick.
Airlines without an international scheduled service from Heathrow prior to 1 April were obliged to operate from Gatwick. However, airlines that did not already operate at Heathrow were still able to begin domestic scheduled services there provided BAA, which ran both Heathrow and Gatwick on behalf of the UK government, and the Secretary of State for Transport granted permission. The Civil Aviation Authority also transferred two pairs of unused landing slots that British Airways held at Tokyo's Narita Airport to Virgin to let it increase its frequency between Heathrow and Tokyo from four to six weekly round trips, making it easier for Virgin to compete against British Airways.
The then-chairman of BA Lord King called the CAA's decision, which the government had endorsed, "a confiscation of his company's property". BA settled out of court when its lawyers discovered the lengths to which the company had gone in trying to kill off Virgin. Branson reportedly donated the proceeds from the case to Virgin Atlantic staff.
This was a tongue-in-cheek challenge to BA's traditional role as the UK's flag carrier. Cathay Pacific received immunity from prosecution for reporting the alleged offence. In May Virgin Atlantic ended flights to Sydney. In September Virgin Atlantic announced plans to scrap flights to Tokyo, Mumbai, Vancouver and Cape Town, and to codeshare transatlantic flights with Delta Air Lines ; the company was also reported to be considering axing its new Little Red domestic airline after suffering heavy losses.
Virgin Atlantic would retain its independence as a UK airline with a UK operating certificate, and will continue to fly under the Virgin brand. In late , Virgin Atlantic were rated 83rd in the world in energy efficiency, behind many of their competitors. In , Virgin Atlantic began to allow its female flight attendants to not wear makeup and have a choice to wear trousers rather than a skirt. In September , it was announced Virgin Atlantic had outlined plans for a massive expansion of its network to create a "second flag carrier" in the UK, should slot reforms being considered for a larger Heathrow airport work in its favour.
The airline would seek to serve destinations — comprising domestic, European and long-haul services — up from the 19 points it plans to serve in , all of which are long-haul. Of the 84 new destinations planned, 12 are domestic, 37 are European and 35 are international. Most of the routes would be new to Virgin Atlantic, although it has served several of the long-haul destinations — such as Cape Town, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver — in the past. In November it was reported that Virgin Atlantic had appointed Deutsche Bank to begin a strategic review of options for the airline following the tie-up between British Airways and American Airlines.
Etihad Airways was also reported to be considering a deal,  and Willie Walsh , chief executive of International Airlines Group , stated that they would be interested in the airline, but only for the lucrative take-off and landing slots it holds at Heathrow Airport.
Regulatory approval from the United States and European Union was granted on 20 June ,  and the purchase was completed on 24 June. I just don't see that the guy [Branson] has anything that stands out in terms of what he has achieved in the industry.
The key trends for Virgin Atlantic are shown below from onwards, figures are for year ending December; earlier figures are for year ending February, and exclude Virgin Nigeria operations — :. Virgin Atlantic aircraft operate with a three-class cabin configuration: Economy , Premium formerly Premium economy ,  and Upper Class - the business class product.
Premium has a separate check-in area, priority boarding and a wider seat with more legroom. Upper Class features a seat that converts into a fully flat bed and access to chauffeur drive.
The airline's frequent-flyer program is styled 'the Flying Club'. Virgin Atlantic operates 10 lounges worldwide. British Midland International provided domestic and European feeder traffic into Heathrow Airport in partnership with Virgin  until it was purchased by British Airways' parent company International Airlines Group in Virgin Atlantic purchased enough slots in to enable it to launch a domestic service on 31 March , under the Little Red brand, operating a total of 12 daily services from London to Aberdeen three , Edinburgh six , and Manchester three.
In September , it was reported that Virgin was considering closing its domestic brand after suffering heavy losses,  with Civil Aviation Authority figures confirming an average seat occupancy level of just On 6 October , Virgin confirmed that the Little Red service would cease; flights to Manchester ended on 28 March and flights to Edinburgh and Aberdeen ended on 26 September Upon incorporation as an AOC holder, the majority of Virgin Atlantic's landing slots at London Heathrow Airport were transferred to VAIL, allowing Virgin to access the value of the carriers' slots by ' mortgaging ' them through open investment from capital markets, the first time in Europe a company has used airport take-off and landing slots to generate money in this way.
Virgin Atlantic has codeshare agreements with the following airlines: . Virgin Atlantic uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The airline's Airbus As and Boeing s are based at Gatwick and Manchester airports and operate routes to the United States and the Caribbean, with seasonal routes to Orlando International Airport offered from Glasgow and Belfast International Airport using the Boeing In August , Virgin became the first airline to operate the Airbus A On 27 September , Richard Branson announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting aircraft weight and fuel consumption.
There was also an experiment in in partnership with Boeing to have aircraft towed to the runway to save fuel, as a potential change to future operational procedures. Virgin said that it expected to use algae -based biofuels in the future. Virgin Atlantic took delivery of its first Boeing in October , becoming the first European airline to fly the variant. The exercised options will replace the Heathrow-based fleet during and Virgin Atlantic had also ordered six Airbus A aircraft, with options on a further six, delivery initially due in This order was officially cancelled in March , with deposits transferred to A and A aircraft orders.
The older Airbus A aircraft were withdrawn from service in April , as rising costs had made it less economical to run the type. Virgin had begun to replace the A on routes with the two-engine A and The airline's As, in three-class layout, have been stationed at Heathrow Airport since April Branson announced in March that The Spaceship Company would partner with Boom Technology to develop supersonic jets capable of travelling between London and New York in three and a half hours.
He confirmed that Virgin Atlantic had options on 10 of the aircraft. In July , Virgin Atlantic announced an order for 12 Airbus A aircraft, to eventually replace the ageing four-engined Boeing and Airbus A fleets. The order consists of eight aircraft which will be purchased directly from Airbus , with a further four acquired through leasing companies. It is expected that the 12 As on order will be split into two separate configurations, a business-oriented, premium heavy configuration, and leisure-oriented, economy heavy configuration for select routes to the Caribbean, Las Vegas, and Orlando, Florida.
This order will leave Virgin with a streamlined fleet of Airbus As, As and Boeing aircraft, leaving just two pilot pools and increasing cost efficiencies. Due to engine fan-blade corrosion issues with Virgin's fleet of Boeing aircraft, Virgin Atlantic has chosen to move some of its Manchester -based Boeing and Airbus A aircraft to cover routes out of London Heathrow.
In , a spokesman for Rolls-Royce which manufacturers the Trent s said the company "would start producing new corrosion-resistant fan blades by the start of ".
Virgin Atlantic has had to temporarily park some of its s while they wait for attention. In place of these aircraft Virgin Atlantic has chosen to lease four former Air Berlin A aircraft, which will be based in Manchester. Virgin Atlantic said it would add "resilience" to its fleet after the engine issues with its s. It is thought these aircraft will be on initial 12 month leases, to allow Virgin to assess their viability in the fleet, with the possibility of extending the leases further.
In March , Airbus announced the cancellation of Virgin Atlantic's order for six Airbus As which it had placed back in and deferred several times since. At the Paris Air Show the airline signed a deal for up to 20 Airbus Aneo aircraft making it the first UK customer for the aircraft. Eight aircraft were planned to come directly from Airbus, six from Air Lease Corporation , and the airline has options on a further six aircraft.
They will replace older Airbus As and s  with deliveries expected from September to In July , Virgin Atlantic announced the retirement of its remaining Airbus As by November ,  however by September had extended the A's service to December , while the airline's Boeing aircraft undergo further repairs on their Rolls-Royce Trent engines. The carrier took delivery of its first Airbus A aircraft in August The fleet operated by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.
The fleet operated by Virgin Atlantic International Limited consists of the following registered aircraft as of March [update] :  . Virgin's first aircraft were painted with a "Eurowhite" design with a red stripe through the centre of the main deck windows. The engines were metallic silver and the tail red with the Virgin logo in white.
In the s, the refreshed design was introduced, removing the centre red stripe through the windows, engines were painted red, the Virgin Atlantic titles in grey were added along the main fuselage, and the 'Flying Lady' was introduced to the nose area. In October , with the delivery of G-VRED, Virgin introduced a new design, with the fuselage painted in metallic silver and a revised tail fin, with red and purple features and the Virgin logo.
Each aircraft has a name, usually feminine, such as Ladybird , Island Lady , and Ruby Tuesday , but some are linked to registrations e. A couple are commemorative names e. An exception is Spirit of Sir Freddie. An early Boeing , it was named in honour of Freddie Laker of Laker Airways, who helped Virgin Atlantic following the demise of his own airline.
The current livery dates from and returns to the "Eurowhite" design featuring purple billboard titles on the fuselage, slight changes to the Scarlet Lady, and new red metallic paint for the aircraft's tail and engines.
On aircraft that have winglets, the wingtips are red, with the Virgin logo on the inside facing passengers on board. The Virgin Atlantic logo was also added in purple billboard titles to the underside of the aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic is considered to have a strong safety reputation. Since the airline's founding in it has never suffered a complete hull-loss incident or a passenger fatality. Media related to Virgin Atlantic at Wikimedia Commons.
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Please note: Drivers must be over the age of 21 to hire a car unless otherwise specified. Drivers between 21 and 24 years of age may be subject to additional costs. Virgin Atlantic has become one of the world's most famous airlines by offering you all those little on-board extras that make such a difference. The airline has won shelf-loads of awards for the way it has transformed the travel industry. Virgin Atlantic is one of the world's most famous airlines by offering you all those little on-board extras that make such a difference.
Virgin Atlantic's innovative approach has won shelf-loads of awards. Whatever class you fly in with Virgin Atlantic, you'll always experience that little bit extra - a quality that sets Virgin Atlantic apart. As well as award-winning Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays uses other high-quality scheduled airlines.
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