Virgin Atlantic, a trading name of Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited and Virgin Atlantic International Limited, is a British airline with its head office in Crawley, England. The airline was established in 1984 as British Atlantic Airways, and was originally planned by its co-founders Randolph Fields and Alan Hellary to fly between London and the Falkland Islands. Soon after changing the name to Virgin Atlantic Airways, Fields sold his shares in the company after disagreements with Sir Richard Branson over the management of the company. The maiden flight from Gatwick Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport took place on 22 June 1984.
The airline along with Virgin Holidays is controlled by a holding company, Virgin Atlantic Limited, which is 51% owned by the Virgin Group and 49% by Delta Air Lines. It is administratively separate from other Virgin-branded airlines. Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited and Virgin Atlantic International Limited both hold Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Type A Operating Licences (AOC numbers 534 and 2435 respectively), both of which permit these airlines, operating as Virgin Atlantic Airways, to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.
Virgin Atlantic uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and operates to destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia from its main base at Heathrow, and its secondary base at Manchester. The airline also operates seasonal flights from Glasgow and Belfast. Virgin Atlantic aircraft consist of three cabins: Economy, Premium (formerly Premium economy) and Upper Class (business).
In July 2017, Virgin Atlantic announced its intention to form a joint venture with Air France–KLM, but in December 2019, it was announced that the joint venture would not include a stake in the company.
On 5 May 2020, it was announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline would be laying off 3000 staff, reducing the fleet size to 35 by the summer of 2022, retiring the Boeing 747-400s and would not be resuming operations from Gatwick following the pandemic.
Virgin Atlantic filed for Chapter 15 Bankruptcy Protection in New York on 4 August 2020 as part of a £1.2 billion private refinancing package.
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Crawley Business Quarter, Manor Royal RH10 9NU
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