By Chase Hagl
Virgin Atlantic Announces Service Between London Heathrow and Tampa
On Wednesday Virgin Atlantic announced that it will continue its transatlantic expansion with a new nonstop service from its London Heathrow (LHR) hub to Tampa, Florida (TPA). Service to The Sunshine State will begin on November 3, 2022, just in time to capture the winter demand.
The carrier will initially operate the city pair four times weekly, quickly increasing frequency to daily service three and a half weeks later on November 28.
Virgin Atlantic Flight 129 will take off from Heathrow at 1:25 P.M. and arrive in Tampa at 6:35 P.M. the same day for a total 10-hour and 10-minute block time.
The return flight, VS130 will depart Tampa at 8:50 P.M. and arrive in London at 10:15 A.M. the following day for a total block of 8 hours and 25 minutes.
- VS129 LHR-TPA 1:25 P.M. – 6:35 P.M.
- VS130 TPA-LHR 8:50 P.M. – 10:15 A.M.+1
Tickets go on sale later this month on July 13 with Return Economy fares starting at £436 per person or $520, Premium from £937 per person or $1,117 and Upper Class from £2,256 per person or $2,690.
The announcement makes the London-based carrier the only airline directly connecting the Tampa Bay region with London’s hub airport, London Heathrow. The route’s closest competitor is British Airways, offering nonstop service between London Gatwick and Tampa four times weekly. In 2019, before the impact of Covid-19 on the travel industry, Department of Transportation data shows British Airways served 165,224 travelers between the two cities.
Tampa continues to see unprecedented growth within the Tampa Bay Region. Over three years, between 2018 and 2021. Tampa has seen a 4.2 percent growth in population and draws in five million people within the Tampa Bay, St Pete and Clearwater areas. The region is also the third fastest-growing US metro area for entrepreneurs in 2021, making the area a prime candidate to capture those business travelers.
“Florida is very much a firm favorite for our customers ever since our first flight to Miami back in 1986. With the popular theme parks and the stunning beaches of St Pete and Clearwater within easy reach, we know it’s an area our customers will love to explore” stated Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic. “The region has a booming economy with high profile businesses moving to the area and many budding entrepreneurs registering start-ups in the city. We look forward to forging new relationships within the Tampa Bay community and cannot wait to welcome existing and new customers, flying them safely to explore this exciting region.”
The carrier will offer more than 190,000 seats each year to and from the city of Tampa, Florida’s third-largest city.
Tampa will complement Virgin Atlantic’s already served Florida routes of Miami and Orlando, which offer daily service to and from Heathrow. The carrier will operate its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the new route. Configured with a 258-seat layout, the aircraft includes 192 Economy seats, 35 Premium and 31 Upper-Class seats