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London, UK - British Leisure carrier Virgin Atlantic will shift all flights from London Gatwick to London Heathrow and withdraw all seven of its Boeing 747-400s from the service as part of the company's restructuring strategy amid the global crisis.

The airline said in a statement that it would consolidate its London hub operations around Heathrow but would not abandon its Gatwick slot portfolio in the hopes of returning there once demand permits it. It will also maintain its Manchester Airport gateway operations.

According to the latest slot coordination report, Virgin Atlantic holds 34 slot pairs for the Summer 2020 season at Gatwick. The airline operated a leisure-oriented, predominantly Caribbean network from Gatwick with scheduled flights to Antigua, Bridgetown, Grenada, Havana Int'l, Montego Bay, New York JFK, Orlando Int'l, St. Lucia Hewanorra, and Tobago.

In terms of fleet operations, Virgin said it would operate only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations.

As such, in addition to the early retirement of its Airbus A340-600 fleet, Virgin has now phased out its seven remaining Boeing 747-400s. Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows the quadjets concluded scheduled operations at the end of March. These planes are nearly 20 years old on average. Five are leased from the America lessor GECAS while the remaining two are owned by Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic will also retire all four A330-200s (including two units operated through subsidiary Virgin Atlantic International) as planned in 2022. The airline also operates ten A330-300s, five A350-1000s, and 17 Boeing 787-9s. It has three more A350-1000s and eight A330-900s on firm order from Airbus.

In tandem with its planned network and fleet cuts, Virgin Atlantic also announced a plan to reduce its headcount by 3,150 staff. A 45-day negotiation period with labor unions BALPA and Unite will soon start ahead of retrenchments.


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