Virgin Atlantic makes change for UK passengers for 'first time in four years'

A top UK airport has been tipped to get new Virgin Atlantic flights – for the first time in four years. Sir Richard Branson has expressed his desire to return to Gatwick Airport after flights were shelved during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, the Virgin boss explained that he wanted flights to resume at Gatwick Airport. Branson told reporters: "It matters – it’s where we started. I will twist arms." According to Travel Weekly, Virgin Atlantic has kept the ownership of some of its Gatwick Airport slots, meaning there is a possibility flights could return to the airport.

Branson told the Sunday Times that he wanted to resume flights from the airport where the first Virgin Atlantic service took off for New York on June 22, 1984. New routes to North America and beyond are due to be announced soon, some of which will eventually be from Gatwick.

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The airline retained ownership of its Gatwick take-off and landing slots, leasing them to easyJet, and Branson was quoted as saying it will return despite consolidating operations at Heathrow. Branson also pledged “ridiculously good” new Upper Class seats “better than BA first class”, based on the two-person Retreat Suite on the airline’s new Airbus A330s.

“Now it’s up to the fuel companies to supply the SAF. We have 25 years. It can be done,” he added. It comes days after Iata director general Willie Walsh told the newspaper that he did not expect a third runway to be built at Heathrow due to its location and noise of flying over London.

He added: “You could and probably should see a second runway at Gatwick.” Gatwick and Heathrow are the two largest airports in London, with nearby airports also including the likes of London Luton, London Stansted and also London City.