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Tampa International Airport Welcomes Virgin Atlantic’s New London Heathrow Service

Tampa International Airport and Virgin Atlantic celebrated the carrier’s inaugural flight from London Heathrow on Wednesday November 2, 2022. The Airbus A330neo named Billie Holiday touched down at TPA around 14:00 and was greeted by Sir Richard Branson.


Virgin Atlantic's Inaugural Flight Between London Heathrow and Tampa Touches Down at Tampa International Airport Around 14:00 on Wednesday, November 2022 - Courtesy Tampa International Airport

On Wednesday (November 2, 2022), Tampa International Airport (TPA) announced the arrival of Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight from London Heathrow (LHR), which touched down Wednesday afternoon around 14:00. The aircraft, a new Airbus A330neo named ‘Billie Holiday’, was greeted in Tampa by Virgin Atlantic’s Founder, Sir Richard Branson, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Chairman, Gary Harrod, TPA’s CEO, Joe Lopano and Tampa Mayor Castor. The inaugural LHR-TPA flight carried a delegation of VIPs, including Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss. During the flight, guests were treated to a variety of Tampa Bay region specialties including Cuban Sandwiches, key lime pie and Two Tribes Floridian beer.


Virgin Atlantic's New A330-900, Bille Holiday (Registration G-VJAZ), Pulls up to the gate at TPA on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - Courtesy Tampa International Airport

In a nod to Tampa’s world-class sports team, Sir Richard Branson, Shai Weiss, and Joe Lopano all wore jerseys for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Rays, taking photographs along with crew members. The group of VIPs then gathered in the Main Terminal, where they were joined by Delta Air Lines’ CEO, Ed Bastian, who spoke at the special event, along with Branson, Weiss, Lopano and Castor. Additionally, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Customer Officer, Corneel Koster, led special tours of the aircraft following the press conference. The aircraft’s Upper Class cabin features a brand new seat design, an evolution of the carrier’s iconic social space, along with the new Retreat Suite, the most spacious suite in Virgin Atlantic’s history.

Speaking at Wednesday’s inaugural celebration event, Virgin Atlantic’s President, and Founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, said,


“We have double the reasons to celebrate today as we fly our brand-new plane into our latest destination – Tampa Bay. I can’t think of a better way to mark our arrival into this incredible region than by giving passengers the best start to their journeys on our new A330neo. Tampa Bay has it all; a year-round warm climate, vibrant nightlife, endless attractions and of course some of the world’s best beaches in St. Pete and Clearwater. Combined with its emerging entrepreneurial mindset, the region simply makes sense for Virgin Atlantic and I can’t wait for our customers to experience all it has to offer.”


Onboard Virgin Atlantic's New A330neo, Bille Holiday - Courtesy Tampa International Airport

Also commenting on the new Tampa service, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss, said,


“Today is a significant milestone in Virgin Atlantic’s continued growth, as we get back to our best for our customers and people. Florida has always been our heartland and I’m delighted to be bolstering connectivity to the region with the only direct flight to London Heathrow.


“It’s also fitting that our new route will enjoy our newest aircraft, the A330neo. This plane has evolved our customer experience, with every traveler receiving a premium experience regardless of the cabin they travel in. It also plays a significant role in our multibillion-dollar fleet transformation, demonstrating our commitment to the planet. We know the most impactful thing we can do as an airline is to fly the cleanest, greenest, youngest fleet possible and the A330neo is integral to achieving this goal.”


Tampa international Airport’s CEO, Joe Lopano, added,


“Tampa International Airport is delighted to partner with Virgin Atlantic for nonstop service to a world-class destination like London-Heathrow. This route will give our passengers another premier overseas option for both business and leisure, aboard an aircraft that reflects TPA’s commitment to cutting-edge innovation and unparalleled service. We’re excited to support Virgin Atlantic’s continued growth here for many years to come.”


Sir Richard Branson and Other VIPs Celebrate Virgin Atlantic's Inaugural Flight From London Heathrow to Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 - Courtesy Tampa International Airport


The new year-round service between London Heathrow and Tampa will operate four times weekly, increasing to daily service from November 28, 2022. Tampa is one of the first cities to experience Virgin Atlantic’s brand new state-of-the-art Airbus A330, which has been designed to provide a premium, personal experience for every guest.


Route Details for Virgin Atlantic's New LHR-TPA Service - Courtesy Tampa International Airport

Further commenting at Wednesday’s inaugural event at TPA, VISIT FLORIDA’s CEO, Dana Young, said,


“VISIT FLORIDA is thrilled to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight from London to Tampa. The U.K. is vital to Florida’s tourism industry, historically serving as our No. 1 overseas market. With Virgin Atlantic’s new Tampa route, we are looking forward to even more visitation growth and showing our British and Irish travelers everything our great state has to offer.”


Founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson in 1984, Virgin Atlantic has brought innovation and the highest level of customer care to the airline industry. The carrier was voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX in 2022 for the sixth consecutive year. Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic employs 6,500 team members worldwide. The airline currently serves around 30 destinations across four continents. Alongside shareholder and Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic operates a leading network between the US and UK, with onward connections to over 200 cities around the world. By the end of 2022, Virgin Atlantic will operate an efficient and simplified fleet of 38 twin-engine aircraft, delivering a 10 percent savings compared to the aircraft they replace.



Source(s): Tampa International Airport, Virgin Atlantic


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