The first Virgin Atlantic flight between London and Tampa touched down in Florida on Wednesday, November 2. The nonstop flight between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) is the first-ever direct connection between the two cities.
Operated with Virgin Atlantic’s brand-new Airbus A330neo, four flights are scheduled each week, increasing to daily flights from November 28. From that date forwards, daily flights will leave London Heathrow at 1:25 p.m., arriving in Tampa at 6:35 p.m. The return journeys are scheduled to depart Tampa at 8:50 p.m., with the overnight flight landing at London Heathrow at 10:15 a.m. the next day.
This new route adds to Virgin Atlantic’s strong presence in Florida, with the U.K. airline already operating direct routes to Miami, and Orlando. However, Virgin Atlantic recently downsized its presence in Orlando by removing some flights from London and Manchester and cutting the route from Belfast.
Sir Richard Branson, the founder and President of Virgin Atlantic, said, “We have double the reasons to celebrate today as we fly our brand-new plane into our latest destination – Tampa Bay. I can’t think of a better way to mark our arrival into this incredible region than by giving passengers the best start to their journeys on our new A330neo.”
.@VirginAtlantic’s new A330neo is 11% more fuel and carbon efficient and will deliver a 50 per cent reduction in airport noise contour. The youngest, cleanest fleet in the sky just got even better: https://t.co/4y0G0EAojB #VirginFamily pic.twitter.com/3PZIKLF90z
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) November 3, 2022
Recently delivered to Virgin Atlantic, the new airliner joins a fleet of 37 aircraft, including 11 Airbus A330-300s, nine A350-1000s, and 17 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The Airbus A330neo has a total capacity of 262 passengers, including 32 Upper Class seats, 46 Premium seats, 28 seats in Economy Delight, and 156 in the main Standard Economy cabin. Two of its Upper Class seats are also ‘Retreat Suites’—a brand-new Upper Class product that includes a sliding door for extra privacy.
Shai Weiss, CEO at Virgin Atlantic, believes, “It’s also fitting that our new route will enjoy our newest aircraft, the A330neo. This plane has evolved our customer experience, with every traveler receiving a premium experience regardless of the cabin they travel in.”
“It also plays a significant role in our multi-billion-dollar fleet transformation, demonstrating our commitment to the planet. We know the most impactful thing we can do as an airline is to fly the cleanest, greenest, youngest fleet possible, and the A330 is integral to achieving this goal.”
Weiss also shared that the U.S. is considered the airline’s “heartland” and that Florida has an essential role in its American portfolio. “I’m delighted to be bolstering connectivity to the region with the only direct flight [from Tampa] to London Heathrow,” he said.