It had been rumoured for a few weeks. This afternoon it was confirmed. Virgin Atlantic will end their London Gatwick operation. As the airline had already stopped flying from the airport on a temporary basis, there won’t be any leaving parties – as the last service from the airport took place many weeks ago.
Along with this, the airline will retire its Boeing 747 fleet.
As a result, 3000+ jobs will also be lost.
The move will consolidate their London operations into just London Heathrow. Operations at Manchester will be unaffected.
For the time being however, Virgin Atlantic will retain its slots at Gatwick airport. They haven’t ruled out returning to the airport in the future.
Virgin Atlantic switched from their long term home in the South Terminal to the North Terminal in 2018. Included in the move was a new Clubhouse lounge.
The airline has a long history at Gatwick. Their very first flight was between London Gatwick and New York Newark in 1984. It was their sole hub of operations until they were granted lucrative slots at London Heathrow in 1991. Since then, Gatwick was seen as the holiday airport for Virgin Atlantic, offering services to Orlando and The Caribbean.
Currently, the airline is operating just a handful of flights. They have stated that they hope to return to 60% of their operations by the end of 2020.
Their future has been questionable over the past few weeks, as they desperately hope for a cash injection. This will either come from the government or by Richard Branson selling either part, or most of his 51% share in the airline. The other 49% is owned by Delta Airlines, although they have ruled out lending a hand. Mainly because they have their own operation to take care of.