Virgin Atlantic Airways is launching a new seasonal route between Vancouver and London Heathrow Airport.
The new route, which will see up to 40,000 customers flying between the cities, will start on May 2012 and will operate four times a week throughout the summer period until the end of October, according to Virgin Atlantic Airways.
Virgin Atlantic will operate its London-Vancouver service with Airbus A340-300s, which will be configured with 34 Upper Class suites, 35 Premium Economy seats and 171 Economy seats.
The outbound sector from London Heathrow Airport (LHR), which will be given the flight number VS95, will depart LHR at 1:00 p.m. and will arrive at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 3:10 p.m. The inbound sector from Vancouver (flight VS96) will leave YVR at 7:50 p.m. and touch down at LHR the next day at 1:45 p.m. local time.
Vancouver is celebrating its 125th birthday this year. Virgin Atlantic expects the new route to generate around C$54 million of tourism revenue for the Vancouver area annually. The airline calculated this number by multiplying the number of additional travellers to Vancouver per year by the average price of a six-night visit to Vancouver, including spending money.
Also, says the airline, the 10 per cent increase in capacity to London Heathrow will be welcome for Canadians wanting to travel to London in 2012, with the UK capital hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games as well as celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.
“Today’s announcement by Virgin Atlantic, of four new weekly flights between London and Vancouver, is positive news for British Columbia’s tourism industry,” says the Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia. “The United Kingdom is one of our key markets and also serves as a hub for other international travellers heading to our province. Virgin Atlantic is recognized around the world as a progressive airline and we look forward to welcoming their passengers to British Columbia when their service begins next summer.”
In addition to the Vancouver service, Virgin Atlantic is launching a second service between London and San Francisco. The flight will operate three times a week starting in March 2012. The airline estimates its new Vancouver route and increased service frequency at San Francisco have the potential to create up to 430 jobs in aviation and tourism across both cities.
“The North American market has always been at the core of our business. Our success here has been due to our investment in product innovation and our willingness to respond to customer demand,” says Steve Ridgway, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive.
“With almost 20,000 people flying from the UK to Canada each month in the peak season, the UK is the largest overseas market for passengers to British Columbia,” adds Ridgway. “Greater competition to both Vancouver and San Francisco will benefit passengers through improved choice and better value for money.”
Virgin Atlantic’s additional London-San Francisco service will begin on March 26, 2012 and will run until October 26, 2012 The new service will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will run in addition to Virgin Atlantic’s daily round-trip to San Francisco, which operates under the flight number VS19 for the outbound sector and VS20 for the inbound sector.
For the new three-times-weekly second service, the outbound sector from London Heathrow will be given the flight number VS41. It will leave LHR at 1:00 p.m. and reach San Francisco International Airport (SFO) at 4:50 p.m. local time. The inbound sector (flight VS42) will depart SFO at 6:50 p.m. and land at LHR the next day at 1:45 p.m.