Virgin Atlantic has opened a new route connecting Tampa International Airport (TPA) with London Heathrow Airport (LHR) on 2 November.
The first official flight was flown on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A330-900neo, named “Billie Holiday”, an aircraft that has been dubbed one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft flying today.
On the first flight were several VIP passengers, including Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss, Delta Air Lines CEO, Ed Bastian, Tampa Airport’s CEO, Joe Lopano, the Mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor and Virgin Atlantic’s founder, Richard Branson.
The route will operate four times a week before increasing in frequency at the end of the month, moving to one flight per day. Airport executives believe the introduction of this partnership and the new route will promote profitability and increase passenger traffic. TPA’s CEO, Joe Lopano, shared a statement on the route.
“Not only does this create another Tampa-UK option for our leisure travellers, but there’s a huge upside for our thriving business community to now have convenient access from TPA to the world’s premier business airport.”
“We expect this to be a popular route during what we know will be a very busy winter travel season,” Lopano said.
Virgin Atlantic’s COO, Juha Jarvinen also commented on the opening of the route.
“We are delighted to continue our expansion in the U.S. with this new daily service to Tampa offering even more choices for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the US and the UK.”
Jarvinen also stated that they expect huge amounts of demand for the new route, with Florida being a “firm favourite” for European travellers who enjoy and want to experience the “popular theme parks and stunning beaches of St. Pete and Clearwater within easy reach.”
“We know it’s an area our customers will love to explore,” Jarvinen added.
Increasing the frequency of flights on the route from four times a week to once a day by the end of November will result in over 190,000 available seats for passengers per year. The route is also the only non-stop flight between TPA and LHR.
This new route will see TPA join the likes of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) to offer its customers a choice between two London-based airports: London Gatwick Airport (LGW) and LHR.
With Virgin Atlantic already operating flights to MCO and Miami International Airport (MIA), TPA is to become the third airport in Florida to be serviced by Virgin Atlantic.