15 NOVEMBER 2021


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Article from BTNews 15 NOVEMBER 2021

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic simultaneously

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the easing of US travel restrictions with a parallel take-off from Heathrow on Monday 8 November.

Not known for the best of relationships dating back to the Lord King era of the 1980s, both CEOs recognise the importance of a high profile return to near normal for the world’s largest and, most would agree, most important long-haul air route.

British Airways chose to redesignate the flight as BA001, used for Concorde, and in more recent times the London City to New York Kennedy via Shannon service with an Airbus A318. For Virgin the flight was labelled VS3 with VS1 retained for a future Newark (EWK) service.

It was an historic moment for several reasons – the reopening of the transatlantic corridor for the first time in over 600 days, and the first dual take-off for such fierce rivals at Heathrow.

Commenting on the news Sean Doyle, BA Chairman and CEO said that the two carriers were “setting aside rivalry” for the dual take-off.

“Transatlantic connectivity is vital for the UK’s economic recovery, which is why we’ve been calling for the safe reopening of the UK-US travel corridor for such a long time,” said Doyle. “We must now look forward with optimism, get trade and tourism back on track and allow friends and families to connect once again.”

Meanwhile Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, actually mentioned his fierce rival.

“Today is a time for celebration, not rivalry. Together with British Airways we are delighted to mark today’s important milestone, which finally allows consumers and businesses to book travel with confidence.

“The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. We’ve been steadily ramping up flying to destinations including Boston, New York, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their favourite US cities to reconnect with loved ones and colleagues.”

As of today, according to the OAG database, there should be 16 Heathrow departures to the two New York airports, Kennedy (JFK) and Newark (EWR); American Airlines (3 services JFK), British Airways (8 JFK), Delta Air Lines (3 JFK), and United Airlines (2 EWR).  JetBlue has limited flights from both Gatwick and Heathrow to Kennedy.




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