Virgin Atlantic has announced changes to its route network, which will see the airline suspend flights to Austin, Texas in the United States.
On 7th January 2024, Virgin Atlantic will operate the final service between London Heathrow and Austin. The airline is suspending flights to the Texan city due to persistent softening in corporate demand, especially in the tech sector. The airline says that it has no choice but to suspend flights.
Passengers booked on a Virgin Atlantic flight to/from Austin after this date will be eligible for a full refund as well as any other travel changes.
Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer, Juha Jarvinen, said that the corporate demand is only at 70% of 2019 levels and he does not forecast any rise in demand in the foreseeable future. He said:
We’ve adored flying our customers to Austin and experiencing this wonderful city of music and culture, but demand in the Tech sector is not set to improve in the near term, with corporate demand at 70% of 2019 levels. Therefore, sadly we made the tough decision to withdraw services. We’d like to thank everyone in Austin; our customers, teams, partners and the authorities for their support over the past 18 months.
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The London Heathrow-based airline started flying to Austin just last year on 25th May 2022, with a 4-weekly service. At the time of its launch, Austin was the first new destination for the carrier in seven years. Virgin Atlantic was confident of competing with British Airways on the route and give travellers a new option on the route.
The service, scheduled to be axed just after a handful of months of operations, runs with Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline was “significantly outperformed” by British Airways if we were to look at monthly passenger numbers. This, along with softening corporate demand, has pushed Virgin Atlantic to review the route and suspend flights.
This is a classic example of how an airline was unable to compete with a legacy airline on a route and eventually had to vacate the route. This goes to show how airlines are required to continuously review their network, understand the statistics of each route and make any necessary changes if required.
Featured image by Facebook/Virgin Atlantic
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