Aviation News

Virgin Atlantic to launch service to Bengaluru and São Paulo

London Heathrow-based Virgin Atlantic has announced two brand new destinations – one is Bengaluru in India and another is São Paulo in Brazil. This marks the entry of Virgin Atlantic in South America.

Indian expansion

Virgin Atlantic currently serves two destinations in India – Delhi and Mumbai. The former sees double daily flights while the latter has a daily flight, both to Virgin Atlantic’s hub – London Heathrow Airport. This will soon change as the airline is adding one more city to its Indian network – Bengaluru, also known as the Silicon Valley of India.

As of 31st March 2024, Virgin Atlantic will operate a daily flight between London Heathrow Airport and Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport with the following schedule:

  • London-Bengaluru
  • Departure time: 11:45
  • Arrival time: 02:15 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 10 hours
  • Flight number: VS316
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Bengaluru-London
  • Departure time: 04:05
  • Arrival time: 10:15
  • Flight time: 10 hours and 40 minutes
  • Flight number: VS317
  • Frequency: Daily

These flights will be operated by Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 31 Upper Class seats (Business Class), 35 Premium Economy seats and 192 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats.

Virgin Atlantic will directly compete with British Airways on this route, as it does on most of its route. The flag carrier of Britain operates a daily service to Bengaluru on the Boeing B777 aircraft.

Since 2019, Virgin Atlantic has increased capacity to India by 250%, the airline’s largest area of growth outside the United States. Launching in Summer 2024, the addition of this new route means the airline will offer 500,000 seats (total) each year between the UK and India

Bengaluru is a rapidly growing tech hub and one of the largest corporate markets in India, whilst intrepid travellers will enjoy the city’s rich culture and beautiful gardens. The new service will offer easy connectivity for passengers connecting via London Heathrow to destinations throughout North America including Seattle, San Francisco and New York JFK, with Virgin Atlantic and transatlantic joint venture partner, Delta Air Lines.

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Bengaluru: the go-to third destination in India for foreign airlines?

Bengaluru is sort of becoming the go-to-city for foreign airlines in India after Delhi and Mumbai. Although it has a smaller international market compared to Chennai, it still has more foreign airlines coming in.

In the recent past, we have seen KLM start operations to Bengaluru, Qantas opting for Bengaluru over Mumbai, Lufthansa starting Munich-Bengaluru flights and Emirates starting Airbus A380 flights to Bengaluru.

There are many reasons why Bengaluru is gaining so much importance day-by-day. Growing population, the big IT industry and being the startup capital of India are some of the reasons. However, one major reason is IndiGo.

IndiGo has become the go-to airline for foreign airlines to have a codeshare partnership with in India. And why not? The airline has close to 60% market share in the domestic segment. Virgin Atlantic, Air France-KLM and Qantas all have a codeshare agreement with IndiGo.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with Bengaluru’s rise as a Gateway to Southern India for foreign airlines? Well, IndiGo serves more number of destinations in India than it does from Delhi or Mumbai. Yes, that’s right. There’s your answer. Serving Bengaluru will open up many more connection opportunities for foreign airlines as part of its codeshare with IndiGo. This will enable foreign airlines to have a greater access in the Indian market.

This may be the primary reason why KLM decided to launch flights to Bengaluru, why Qantas chose Bengaluru over Mumbai as its second Indian destination and now Virgin Atlantic choosing to opt for Bengaluru as its third point in India.

South American entry

When Virgin Atlantic launches its daily service between London Heathrow Airport and São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport on 13th May 2024, it will mark the carrier’s entry into South America.

São Paulo is a key hub in Brazil for Virgin Atlantic’s codeshare partner and South America’s largest airline, LATAM. The partnership provides passengers with onward connections to 12 domestic airports in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Florianopolis as well as offering earn and redemption options for Flying Club members. Additionally, passengers travelling from São Paulo to London Heathrow will have the option to smoothly connect onto Virgin Atlantic’s rest of world destinations through Terminal 3, including Tel Aviv, Delhi and Shanghai.

One of the most populous cities in the world, São Paulo is home to multinational businesses, providing corporate customers and business travellers the opportunity to fly in Virgin Atlantic style. The city is famed as the foodie capital of Brazil, a bustling city offering a bounty of arts and cultural experiences, which will enthral experience hungry leisure travellers. Brazil’s position as the number one import and export country in South America will also make São Paulo a popular cargo route. With multiple tonnes of capacity each day, Virgin Atlantic expects to carry regular shipments of car parts, pharmaceuticals, food and agricultural products, contributing to £7.7 billion in annual trade between the two countries.

Featured image by Facebook/Virgin Atlantic

What do you think of Virgin Atlantic starting flights to Bengaluru and São Paulo? Let me know in the comments section below.

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