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British Airways and Virgin Atlantic celebrate US’ border reopening with simultaneous takeoffs

Today is the day on which the United States has reopened its borders to international travellers for the first time in nearly 20 months. To celebrate the reopening, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic performed simultaneous takeoffs from London Heathrow Airport.

Rivals became Friends for a short time

Today is a huge day for the transatlantic aviation industry as the United States has reopened its borders for the first time in 20 months to fully vaccinated international travellers from over 30 countries. For over a year and a half, airlines have been unable to fly many passengers from Europe to the United States. This all changes today as the North American country welcomes fully vaccinated travellers from Europe and the United Kingdom.

The transatlantic market is the biggest market for both, British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic. So naturally, both the airlines are very excited about the reopening of US’ borders. And to mark this, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic performed simultaneous takeoffs from London’s Heathrow Airport. At 08:51 hours today, a British Airways Airbus A350-1000 departed London Heathrow bound for New York-JFK as BA1, the airline’s most prestigious flight number. At the same time, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 also took to the skies from London Heathrow bound for New York-JFK. While Virgin Atlantic’s A350 departed from Heathrow’s Runway 27L, BA’s A350 took off from Heathrow’s Runway 27R.

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If we take a look through history, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are firm rivals. For example, you can take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s “No Way BA/AA” campaign to see this. In 2008, Virgin Atlantic added “No Way BA/AA” to one of its aircraft to protest against a transatlantic alliance between British Airways and American Airlines, both of them being member of oneworld alliance.

This was not BA’s first planned simultaneous departure

Today’s simultaneous departure of 2 Airbus A350-1000s isn’t the first double departure from London Heathrow that British Airways has planned. On 8th October 2020, the airline operated its final Boeing B747 flight from London Heathrow, ending a 50-year long era with the retirement of the “Queen of the Skies”.

The British flag carrier had planned that its last two Boeing B747s would depart from London Heathrow simultaneously. However, this could not be achieved due to poor weather conditions. Instead, the aircraft departed from the airport’s north runway one after the other.

Meanwhile, British Airways recently announced that it will complete retrofitting its Boeing B777 fleet with new club suites by the end of 2022.

Featured image by Twitter/British Airways

What do you think of today’s simultaneous departure of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft? Let me know in the comments section below.

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