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Virgin Atlantic Airways

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Virgin Atlantic Airways - airline information




General information


American Airlines

Virgin Atlantic is a very important transatlantic air carrier based in Crawley, England and is part of Sir Richard Branson's business empire.

The airline operates primarily long haul flights, serving destinations in the Caribbean, North America, Africa, Asia, Australia and, of course Europe.

The airline started operations in 1982 with a single Boeing 747, linking London and New York. The idea was so profitable that the airline doubled its single aircraft fleet, buying another Jumbo Jet in 1986. More major destinations were added to the list in the next 6 years: Tokyo, Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando.

Today, Virgin Atlantic serves 30 destinations, taking advantage of the intense flux of UK resident businessmen and families towards vacation destinations in the Caribbean, as well as to major cities of the World.


Fact sheet


 General company information...

Official name: 

Virgin Atlantic Airways



IATA designator:


ICAO designator:



Crawley (England), UK





Heathrow International Airport - London (England), UK

Gatwick International Airport - London (England), UK

Focus cities, regions,

secondary hubs:

Manchester Airport - Manchester, UK

Number of destinations:


 Fleet & flights-related...

Fleet size:

37 (+ 31 orders)

Aircraft types used:

Airbus A340

Boeing 747

Accidents & incidents:

Total: 3 - Fatal cases: None


Number of passengers:

4,9 million (2006)



Frequent flyer program:

Flying Club

Other important issues:

- Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to introduce the Airbus A340-300

- 10 newly ordered Airbus A330-200 jets will enter the fleet starting with 2011

- 6 Airbus A380 Super Jumbo planes have been ordered by the company, with options of 6 more

- 15 Boeing 787-9 planes were ordered and there are options for 8 others and purchase rights for 20 more




The main hub is at London, while a secondary one, smaller one is at Manchester.

London and Manchester are connected (directly and indirectly) to major destinations of British travelers and also primary business tourism sources, such as: Hong Kong, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, etc.




Currently only the long haul flight-destined Airbus A340 and Boeing 747 aircraft are in service.

Airbus A380 double-decker long range airplanes will be introduced. 6 were ordered and deliveries are starting with 2009 (the initial date set was in 2006, but due to Airbus' organization, financial and technical problems, it had to be delayed). There are options for further 6 aircraft.

Boeing 787s are expected to enter service 2011. The initial (firm) order is of 15. But, the number could rise with 28 others, taking account of the further options and purchase rights.

Slowly after 2011, the 747s are expected to be gradually retired.


Activity & market position


51 % of the company's shares are owned by the Virgin Group, 49 % by Singapore Airlines.

The company is only 7th in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, but 2nd in terms of passenger-kilometers flown.

The airline flies to faraway destinations, but carries relatively few people.

Due to its good organization and cost-effective operations, Virgin Atlantic is a profitable company that survived the 911 phenomenon better than most other airlines.

The main rival of the company is British Airways, but the competition is rather on the long haul flight segment.


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 Last modified/updated: November 20, 2009


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