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  • Joe Breitfeller

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Perform Synchronized Takeoff in Restart of First U.S. Flights

This morning at 08:30 British Airways flight BA001 and Virgin Atlantic flight VS3, both headed to New York-JFK, departed in a synchronized takeoff, marking the reopening of U.S. borders to fully-vaccinated travelers. BA001 was also powered by 35% sustainable aviation fuel.


British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Perform First-Ever Synchronized Takeoff From London Heathrow to Mark the Reopening of U.S. Borders on November 8, 2021 - Courtesy British Airways

On Monday (November 8, 2021), British Airways announced the departure of flight BA001, which performed a synchronized takeoff with Virgin Atlantic flight VS3 at 08:30 this morning, both headed for New York-JFK. These were the first flights by the airlines to the U.S. since the lifting of travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated travelers. British Airways flight BA001, a flight number previously reserved for Concorde, was directly powered by 35 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), in what is believed to be the first transatlantic flight powered by a blend this high. The fuel for the Airbus A350 flight was provided by bp and made from cooking oil. The Airbus A350 is up to 40 percent more fuel efficient that the Boeing 747-400s British Airways previously operated between London and New York. The combination of modern aircraft efficiency and SAF will result in a flight with overall emissions that are 50 percent lower than that emitted by the now retired 747-400s.


In Monday’s announcement, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, Sean Doyle, who is traveling on BA001, said,


“Today is about celebrating the UK-US reopening of the transatlantic corridor after more than 600 days of separation, and it was fantastic to be able to mark this by synchronising the take-off of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights for the first time ever. While flying is vital to connect the world and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic, it’s important for us to use this moment to demonstrate how we’re driving our decarbonisation plans forward, and what the future will look like for aviation. That’s why we’ve directly powered our first flight to the US today with sustainable aviation fuel and offset emissions on behalf of our customers. We’re looking forward to the Government’s continued support to ensure the development and mass production of sustainable aviation fuel continues at pace.”



Also commenting on the restart of U.S. flights, the UK Ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, said,


“Today is an incredibly exciting and meaningful day for the UK-US relationship. We can all once again travel to each other’s countries to visit families, take holidays, and conduct transatlantic business. I am absolutely thrilled that safe and sustainable travel can fully resume between the UK and the United States.”


With the lifting of travel restrictions, British Airways will restart direct service to 17 U.S. destinations, including 26 flights today. For winter 2021/22, the carrier will extend service to 23 U.S. airports with up to 246 weekly flights, more than any other transatlantic carrier. Flights to New York will increase from five to eight daily in December, and British Airways will also offer double-daily services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Dallas, Miami and Toronto, as well as daily flights to Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Vancouver.


Source: British Airways