Virgin Atlantic’s 747 Fleet Retired, Includes Galaxy’s Edge Inspired The Falcon

As COVID-19 takes its tole on the aviation industry, Virgin Atlantic is reducing its fleet from 45 to 36 planes and retiring all 747’s including The Falcon that was inspired by Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. A third of the workforce is being laid off and operations from Gatwick airport have ended. Here is part of a letter sent to all customers, from CEO Shai Weiss, over the last 24-hours….

Since our creation 36 years ago, we have played a central role in creating greater connectivity and competition for the nation. We thrive on challenging incumbents and are proud to offer the best experience in the sky, regardless of the cabin in which you travel. The steps we are taking now have been made to ensure we continue to challenge, innovate and offer our unrivalled service for many years to come.

We are proud to be the most loved travel company and the industry sustainability leader.

We have taken bold and decisive action so that when you are ready to travel again, we are here to serve you.

• Our fleet will be one of the youngest and greenest in the sky as we say goodbye to our four engine 747s and move to a fleet of 36 twin engine aircraft. Offering the most comfortable experience in the sky and whilst reducing our CO2/RTK emissions by a further 10% in the next two years. Building on the 18% efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.
• We will continue to fly to your favourite destinations, operating directly to 26 destinations and offering a further 345 routes via our expanded Joint Venture with Delta and Air France/KLM. I’m also delighted to announce we shall be commencing a new flight from Heathrow into Cape Town from November 2020.
• Preparations to relaunch our passenger services are well underway and we are taking every possible step to ensure our customers have maximum peace of mind to fly, as the travel restrictions are lifted. This includes additional cleanliness and health measures onboard as well as at the airport, to protect our people and customers in line with expert advice, including Public Health England, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the World Health Organisation and aviation regulatory bodies.
• We look forward to welcoming our leisure passengers to London Heathrow & have retained our slot portfolio at Gatwick to enable us to return, as customer demand recovers. If you have already booked a flight which is due to depart from Gatwick, our Customer Care team will be in contact with you directly and it will be our pleasure to rearrange your departure from Heathrow.

Our amazing people

The safety, security and well-being of our people and customers is our number one priority. Our people, even at these toughest of times, remain our secret sauce and what sets us apart. I wish it was not the case, but we will have to materially reduce the number of people we can employ. It is with great sadness that we will see many of our fantastic people leave but we hope to welcome many of them back one day in the future, as demand for flying returns.

Virgin Atlantic is our name and our brand.

Virgin Holidays will be re-branded as Virgin Atlantic Holidays, as we focus all our efforts on taking leisure customers to the most loved destinations that Virgin Atlantic serves. We will continue to work in close partnership with Next, to offer our popular face-to-face holiday service in their stores.

Whilst the past few months have been difficult, we are confident about what the future holds and we are excited to welcome you back on board soon, to showcase the improvements we have made to our award-winning flight experience.

We hope that all staff being laid off are able to find new employment soon, and once COVID-19 is under control we are all able to return to the skies and to visit our favourite destinations. Stay safe and MTFBWY!