Virgin Atlantic returns to Dubai with four-weekly flights
Virgin Atlantic has returned from London Heathrow (LHR) to Dubai (DXB) in October with a fuel-efficient aircraft, promising a reduced fuel burn of 20 per cent compared with other similar-sized aeroplanes. The Boeing 787-9 is also one of the quietest in the skies with a 60 per cent smaller noise footprint when compared to others. The seasonal flight will serve the sector four times a week this year and daily come winter 2024.
Liezl Gericke, Head of International at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Dubai is still the favourite with British travellers. The number three source market of tourism into the UAE comes from the UK. This just shows the love for the UAE as a destination. We at Virgin Atlantic are delighted to be back because we can see that there’s a strong desire and demand for British travellers to continue to fly to the beautiful sunny weather that Dubai offers.”
The airline has grown about 15 per cent larger year-on-year, says Luke Goggin, Vice President of Sales, and has this year expanded to include destinations such as the Maldives and Turks and Caicos.
The fleet comprises 40 aircraft, including 17 Boeing 787-9s, 10 Airbus A330-300s and 9 Airbus A350-1000s. In 2022, the airline welcomed the first of 16 A330-900 neos.
Virgin Atlantic returns to Dubai with a Boeing 787-9 with the Upper Class and Premium seats as well as Light, Classic and Economy Delight seats. “Economy Light is a ticket without a checked-in bag - the ticket price is really well placed. Classic is what we’ve always known economy to be, a seat and a checked-in bag. And Delight is in the front part of the economy cabin. It’s slightly more spacious - with a 34’’ seat pitch and has more legroom, and it’s marginally more expensive than a Classic,” explains Gericke.
For passengers, the airline has new lounge experiences in store. In Dubai, its partnered with SkyTeam alliance, which gives some flyers access to the 960sqm lounge in Dubai Airport (DXB terminal 1). “And then beyond in the UK, we have in London Heathrow the award-winning Clubhouse, which has really been voted consistently and repeatedly the best business class lounge in the world. So on both ends, our passengers will experience wonderful premium lounge experiences,” says Gericke.
To make this comeback possible – the last time Virgin Atlantic operated in the UAE it was 2019 – the airline has partnered with Dnata for a range of ramp and passenger services. Gericke says: “They are exceptional in the work that they do for us in the network they have within the industry. It was a quick decision for us to return to Dubai five months ago and make the decision to again restart this route. And they have been phenomenal working behind the scenes to get us ready.”
Virgin Atlantic has also selected dnata Representation Services to provide a comprehensive range of services to the airline as its general sales agent (GSA) in the UAE. The partnership establishes UAE-based infrastructure for local sales, marketing and distribution support, providing a full range of travel services for Virgin customers flying to and from Dubai. “We absolutely want to penetrate the whole market,” she says.As well as flying customers, Virgin Atlantic offers 20 tonnes of cargo capacity on each flight. This fast cargo service will offer opportunities for companies looking to export and import goods between the Middle East and prime markets in the UK and US.