Dallas — London-based carrier Virgin Atlantic (VS) continues with its long-haul expansion by placing its focus on South America, a continent yet to be explored by the airline, launching direct flights between London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Sao Paulo-Guarulhos Airport (GRU).
Virgin Atlantic will be the third operator to fly the route, joining British Airways (BA) and LATAM Airlines Brazil (JJ) on the almost 12-hour journey.
Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer of VS, said, “The countdown has officially begun to our much-anticipated arrival in Sao Paulo. It’s fitting that our 40th year brings our entry to a brand new continent in South America, symbolizing a continued period of network growth for Virgin Atlantic. Sao Paulo is the perfect fit for us, a bustling metropolis of culture and adventure that suits the differing needs of our rich customer base.”
The carrier will start operating the route on May 13, 2024, with daily flights on the Boeing 787-9 seating 258 passengers in a three-class configuration and a service that includes complimentary food and drink and over 300 hours of combined entertainment, including movies, TV, music, and WiFi.
More Routes Discovered in All Directions
Virgin Atlantic has recently identified Sao Paulo as one of the few lucrative markets for its long-haul flights. The airline exclusively operates Airbus A330-300, A350-1000, and Boeing 787-9 aircraft for these routes and has exciting plans to add more destinations to its network by 2024.
Continuing its expansion in the Americas, VS will include Las Vegas (LAS) as a transatlantic destination from its secondary hub in Manchester (MAN) starting in June 2024. In Asia, the airline will further strengthen its presence by introducing a fourth daily service to Bangalore (BLR) from London (LHR), expanding its operations in India.
In October, VS will resume the popular connection between Heathrow Airport and Dubai (DXB), which, at its peak, saw up to nine daily Airbus A380 flights by the competing carrier Emirates (EK).
Extending Non-SkyTeam Partnerships
In March 2023, VS confirmed the joining of the SkyTeam alliance, the second largest of the big three. VS is therefore the first and only UK airline to become a member of the group after its joint venture partnership with Air France (AF), KLM (KL), and Delta Air Lines (DL) on transatlantic flights.
As a result, the airline will disrupt the long-standing monopoly held by Oneworld carriers, such as British Airways (BA) and LATAM (LA) on the London-to-Sao Paulo route. This move is expected to introduce increased competition, potentially leading to lower ticket prices for travelers.
However, it is important to note that Virgin Atlantic maintains a significant codeshare agreement with LA. This partnership will be significantly expanded with the introduction of direct flights from London to South America. Passengers will have access to convenient onward connections to more than 50 destinations across the continent, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Florianopolis.
Jarvinen added, “Our partnership with LATAM will also unlock further destinations in Brazil and beyond into South America with Skyteam partner Aerolíneas Argentinas, opening up a wealth of exciting opportunities for those who choose to fly with Virgin Atlantic.”
Featured image: Luca Flores/Airways