Is This The Most Interesting Airline Route Out There?

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Over the weekend, I was reading how Virgin Atlantic was adding new non-stop service between Orlando, Florida and Belfast, Ireland (SAY WHAT?)

First off, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly to Belfast, Northern Ireland at all, so it just seems strange that they’re adding it from Orlando, Florida of all places.

Virgin Atlantic does operate non-stop year round service from Orlando, FL to both London–Gatwick, Manchester (UK), so they will be expanding their current service out of Orlando.

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Here’s the press release about this new route: 

Delta’s joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic Airways is expanded outside its London hub today with the launch of a new summer service between Orlando and Belfast, Ireland. The weekly flight between the Sunshine State and Northern Ireland will run for four weeks this summer and resume June 2016.

Orlando is a key leisure destination for U.K. travelers during the holidays, and this flight complements Virgin Atlantic’s year-round services to London-Gatwick and Manchester. Virgin Atlantic also operates a seasonal nonstop flight to Glasgow, Scotland, improving regional connectivity within the U.K.

“We’re extremely excited to be operating our first flights from Belfast and we’ve received a warm welcome from the people of Northern Ireland,” said Joe Thompson, Senior Vice President of Network and Alliances at Virgin Atlantic. “We want to offer customers from all over the UK access to our popular leisure destinations during peak travel periods.”

To mark the launch of the inaugural flight today, customers will be treated to a special home-from-home service with an all-Northern Irish crew looking after them onboard.

“Adding a third regional departure point and a fourth route to Orlando strengthens our joint venture network outside London and also improves the convenience of travelling across the trans-Atlantic,” said Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Virgin Atlantic also launched nonstop services between Detroit and London-Heathrow this month, supplementing Delta’s daily operation. The Delta-Virgin Atlantic partnership will offer up to 39 daily flights between the U.S. and U.K. this summer.

Bottom Line

Does anyone else think it’s a little weird that Virgin Atlantic is offering this route for just 4 weeks this summer? If it’s so sustainable why not offer it all summer, it’s almost like a private charter open to the public in my eyes.

If they wanted to added Belfast, I’m surprised they didn’t do from New York or Atlanta, which both could feed connections from Delta, but to choose Orlando, just seems a little strange to me.

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  1. You’re overlooking that Orlando is a huge leisure market for Belfast (and surrounding) residents, so the draw is for them to get to their intended destination nonstop at a time of year when families are available to travel. I have no idea whether it’ll prove sustainable and profitable, but I can understand the rationale to try.

  2. Belfast is on the island of Ireland, but definitely not in the country 🙂 I guess Virgin Atlantic can fly that route because Belfast probably has more capacity for traffic growth than LHR/LGW, and it’s in the same country (if by country, we mean UK instead of N. Ireland vs. England). It is all very confusing, since the 4 constituent pieces of the UK are also countries. Or, maybe N. Ireland is a province. Who knows!

  3. “Joe Thompson, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president for network and alliances, revealed that the airline had chosen to fly out of Belfast instead of Dublin because of existing demand from holidaymakers in the province.”

  4. Its actually not that strange, given the huge market between the UK and the Orlando area — there are up to 5 flights a day (depending on the day) from Orlando to the UK on Virgin Atlantic plus 2 more from British Airways flights. And Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Virgin also currently serves Glascow from Orlando, which you forgot to mention. I would suppose the 4 week trial has more to do with aircraft availability as they are shifting so many routes in their efforts to return to sustained profitabilty. I expect it will make a longer return in 2016.

  5. What is interesting about Northern Ireland (even though they are part of the UK) is that they abolished air passenger duty (APD) but only on long-haul flights. Up until now that has made almost no difference because (I think) there was only one flight to New York. So I’m guessing these Virgin Flights should be better value than those departing from the UK mainland.

  6. You are exhibiting an astounding amount of American Travel Myopia. This is not for Floridians to see Belfast. It is an efficient way to get the British to Disneyworld.
    Not everything is about servicing us Americans.

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