Virgin Atlantic announces summer 2021 flights following closure of Gatwick base

Virgin Atlantic has announced its programme for summer 2021 following the closure of its Gatwick base.

The airline will operate flights from Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast.

It expects to “steadily increase” flights in the second half of this year, before a “further, gradual recovery” in 2021.

Virgin Atlantic will fly to 24 destinations next summer, using only twin-engine aircraft.

The Heathrow to Tel Aviv service will increase to twice per day.

The airline announced last week that it will not resume Gatwick flights, will reduce its workforce by 3,150 people and will not return to using its seven Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which have four engines.

Chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “As the Covid-19 crisis stabilises and demand gradually returns, we are looking forward to welcoming our customers back and flying them safely to their favourite destinations.

“We have taken the opportunity to pause, reflect and reshape our 2021 flying programme looking at efficiencies in our fleet and connectivity across our network, to ensure it is fit for the future, flying to the destinations we know our customers love to fly.

“We’re delighted that our popular Tel Aviv service, which launched in September 2019, will now increase to double daily, whilst regional flying from Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast will continue to play an important part in offering choice to customers and connecting UK travellers to Orlando, Barbados, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles.”

Flights will be on sale from Saturday.

It emerged on Monday that Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson has agreed to sell shares worth around 500 million US dollars (£405 million) in his Virgin Galactic space business to raise funds for his struggling airline and leisure businesses.

The businessman has previously warned the carrier will collapse unless it receives Government support and indicated he would be willing to remortgage his private Caribbean island home on Necker Island to raise funds.