definition of Wikipedia
|Commenced operations||22 June 1984|
|Frequent-flyer program||Flying Club|
|Airport lounge||Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse|
|Parent company||Virgin Group|
|Headquarters||Crawley, United Kingdom|
|Revenue||£2,700 million (12 months to 28 February 2011)|
|Operating income||£18.5 million (12 months to 28 February 2011)|
Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited (operating as Virgin Atlantic) is a British airline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group (51%) and Singapore Airlines (49%). Its headquarters is in Crawley, West Sussex, England, near Gatwick Airport.
Virgin Atlantic uses a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing widebodied jets and operates between the United Kingdom and North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia from its bases at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
In 2011, Virgin Atlantic carried 5.3 million passengers, making it the eighth largest UK airline based on passenger numbers. In the year to February 2010, the airline made an annual operating loss of £132 million on a turnover of £2,357 million.
Randolph Fields, an American-born lawyer, and Alan Hellary, a former chief pilot for Laker Airways, set up British Atlantic Airways as a successor to Laker Airways. Fields got the idea for an airline operating between London and the Falkland Islands in June 1982, when the Falklands War had just finished. Fields needed expertise, and contacted Alan Hellary, Laker Airways' former chief pilot, who had also been thinking about establishing a regular commercial service to the Falklands. Hellary was in contact with colleagues out of work following the collapse of Laker Airways and they developed the idea.
However the short runway at Port Stanley Airport and the time it would take to improve it made the scheme unviable, so the idea of the Falklands service was dropped. Instead, Hellary and Fields tried to secure a licence from Gatwick Airport to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York City. A three-day inquiry in May 1983 rejected the application after British Airways (BA), British Caledonian and BAA objected.
Hellary and Fields then applied for a licence between Gatwick and Newark, using a 380-seat DC-10. However, faced with the prospect of direct competition from People Express, a post-deregulation "no frills" discount airline at Newark, they decided to secure more funding before proceeding.
Fields met Richard Branson at a party in Central London during which he proposed a business partnership. After protracted and testy negotiations, Fields agreed to a reduced stake of 25% in the airline (renamed Virgin Atlantic) and became its first chairman. Following disagreements over operations, Fields agreed to be bought out for an initial sum of £1 million with further payment on Virgin's first dividend. As a result of a High Court action, this additional payment was received shortly before Fields' death from cancer in 1997.
On 22 June 1984, Virgin Atlantic operated its inaugural scheduled service between Gatwick and Newark using a leased Boeing 747-200 (registration G-VIRG), christened Maiden Voyager, formerly operated by Aerolíneas Argentinas. Part of Richard Branson's approach to business is to succeed within the first year or exit the market. This includes a one-year limit on everything associated with starting up. Virgin Atlantic became profitable during the first 12 months, aided by sister company Virgin Records' ability to finance the lease of a second-hand Boeing 747. The firm timed operations to take advantage of a full summer, from June to September – the most profitable period of the year.
In 1986, the airline added another Boeing 747 and started a scheduled route from Gatwick to Miami. Additional aircraft were acquired and routes launched from Gatwick to New York JFK (1988), Tokyo (1989), Los Angeles (1990), Boston (1991), and Orlando (1992). In 1987, a service was launched between Luton and Dublin using Viscount turboprop aircraft, but this was withdrawn around 1990. In 1988, Club Air operated two Boeing 727 jet aircraft on behalf of Virgin. These served the Luton to Dublin route until about 1990.
In June 2002, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to use the Airbus A340-600.
In 2003, Virgin Atlantic carried 3.8 million passengers. This increased to 4.6 million in 2006, placing it seventh among UK airlines, though the long-haul nature of its operations made it second in terms of passenger-miles. During the 2012 Summer Olympics bids, Virgin Atlantic attached London 2012 decals to the rear of many of their Boeing 747-400s.
Virgin volunteered a Boeing 747 for a test of biofuels. In February 2008, it flew from Heathrow to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, with no passengers, and 20% of power for one engine provided by plant-based biofuel. The airline said it expected to use biofuels based on algae.
In November 2010, it was reported that Virgin Atlantic had appointed Deutsche Bank to begin a strategic review of options for the airline following the tie-up between British Airways and American Airlines. By February 2011, it was confirmed that SkyTeam members Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines had appointed Goldman Sachs to advise them on a joint potential approach for Virgin Atlantic. Etihad Airways was also reported to be considering a deal, and Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group, stated that they would be interested in the airline, but only for the lucrative take-off and landing slots it holds at London Heathrow Airport.
Virgin Atlantic's head office, known as The Office, is located in the Business Quarter of Crawley, West Sussex, England, near Gatwick Airport. The same building houses the corporate offices of Virgin Holidays. Prior to the establishment of The Office, Virgin Atlantic had its head office in Ashdown House on the High Street in Crawley.
Virgin Atlantic has been a rival of British Airways since its inception, as British Airways had been the only airline from the United Kingdom serving long-haul routes to destinations in North America, the Caribbean and the Far East since the BA-BCal merger in the late 1980s.
In January 1991, the UK opened Heathrow Airport to Virgin when it abolished the London Air Traffic Distribution Rules (TDRs) in response to pressure from the industry. The London TDRs had come into effect in 1978, originally created to achieve a fairer distribution of traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick, the UK's two main international airports, to help Gatwick make a profit. The former rules stated airlines without an international scheduled service from Heathrow prior to 1 April 1977 would not be permitted operations there; instead they would have to use Gatwick. However, airlines that did not already operate at Heathrow were still able to commence domestic scheduled services there provided BAA, which ran both Heathrow and Gatwick on behalf of the UK Government, and the Secretary of State for Transport granted permission.
The decision to open Heathrow to all newcomers in 1991 – other than those governed by Bermuda II – angered BA's chairman Lord King, who stopped British Airways' donations to the Conservative Party in protest. Lord King was further angered by the subsequent decision of the CAA to transfer two pairs of unused landing slots that British Airways held at Tokyo's Narita Airport to Virgin to let it increase its frequency between Heathrow and Tokyo from four to six weekly round trips, making it easier for Virgin to compete against British Airways. King called the CAA's decision, which the Government had endorsed, "a confiscation of his company's property".
According to industry insiders, Virgin Atlantic had increasing financial problems during this period. This was primarily the result of a reduction in demand for travel caused by the recession of the early 1990s, as well as by public fear of traveling in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Britain's Conservative Government was aware that Dan-Air was on the brink of bankruptcy, and wanted to avoid the collapse of another independent[nb 1] British airline, especially if its profile was as high as that of Virgin Atlantic. The Government decided to let Virgin Atlantic into Heathrow despite opposition from British Airways.
The decision to abolish the London TDRs and to let Virgin Atlantic operate at Heathrow in competition with British Airways became the trigger for BA's so-called "dirty tricks" campaign against Virgin. In 1993 BA's PR director, David Burnside, published an article in BA News, British Airways' internal magazine, which argued that Branson's protests against British Airways were a publicity stunt. Branson sued British Airways for libel, using the services of George Carman QC. BA settled out of court when its lawyers discovered the lengths to which the company had gone in trying to kill off Virgin. BA had to pay a legal bill of up to £3m, damages to Branson of £500,000 and a further £110,000 to his airline. Branson donated the proceeds from the case to Virgin Atlantic staff.
In the 1990s, Virgin Atlantic jets were painted with "No-Way BA/AA" in opposition to the attempted merger between British Airways and American Airlines.
In 1997, following British Airways' announcement that it was to remove the Union Flag from its tailfins in favour of world images, Virgin introduced a Union Flag design on the winglets of its aircraft and changed the red dress on the Scarlet Lady on the nose of aircraft to the union flag with the tag line "Britain's Flag Carrier". This was a tongue-in-cheek challenge to BA's traditional role as the UK's flag carrier.
Relations with British Airways improved with the arrival of Rod Eddington as BA CEO, though rivalry continued. Eddington replaced Robert Ayling, involved in the dirty tricks affair, who was dismissed by Lord Marshall, the long-serving BA chairman and Ayling's mentor, on behalf of BA's main institutional shareholders after BA had its first net loss since privatisation during Ayling's time during its 1999/2000 financial year.
In June 2006, a tip-off from Virgin Atlantic led US and UK competition authorities to investigate alleged price-fixing between Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. In August 2007, BA was fined £271 million by the UK Office of Fair Trading and the US Department of Justice; it could have been more, but the figure was upheld in recognition of a guilty plea. Virgin Atlantic was not fined as it was given immunity for reporting the cartel to regulators.
In April 2010, a tip-off from Cathay Pacific led to the UK Office of Fair Trading investigating alleged price-fixing between Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific on flights to Hong Kong between 2002 and 2006. Cathay Pacific will benefit from immunity as long as they continue to cooperate with the authorities. A maximum fine if found guilty is 10% of turnover which based on the £2.5bn sales for the year to the February 2009 would be £250m. At this stage, the competition authorities stressed that it should not be assumed that the parties involved have broken the law.
A Star Alliance member airline
Virgin Atlantic's fleet uses both Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with an average age of 9.6 years as of April 2012. Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A330s are used on selected routes from Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester, with the A330 being used on other flights as well. Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s are used interchangeably on all routes from Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic has orders for Boeing 787–9 and Airbus A380-800 aircraft for delivery beginning 2014 and 2015, respectively. The A380 was expected in service in 2006 but was delayed until 2009 because of problems within Airbus. Virgin then deferred its order to 2013, arguing it wanted the aircraft to prove itself before it began it operate them.
The order for 15 Boeing 787-9s, with options on eight more and purchase rights on 20 more, was announced on 24 April 2007. The aircraft will replace Virgin’s older A340-300s. Virgin has listed Seattle, Vancouver, Bangkok and Melbourne as possible destinations for the aircraft, saying the 787 would make possible non-stop operations from London to Perth, Australia and Honolulu, Hawaii.
On 27 September 2006, Branson announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting aircraft weight and fuel consumption. There was also an experiment in 2007 in partnership with Boeing to have aircraft towed to the runway to save fuel, as a potential change to future operational procedures.
Two Virgin Atlantic aircraft are featured in the James Bond film Casino Royale. One Airbus A340-600 (G-VWIN) and one Boeing 747-400, along with Branson and Virgin Atlantic crew, are part of a scene at Miami Airport, although the sequence was filmed at Prague's Ruzyně International Airport. Virgin Atlantic's relationship with the James Bond franchise continues in Quantum Of Solace, where James Bond and René Mathis travel to La Paz, Bolivia, on board Virgin Atlantic, in Upper Class, although the airline has never flown to any destination in South America.
Virgin will be refitting all of the "leisure fleet" 747's commencing in April 2012. This will include a deep clean of upper class, installation of the Premium Economy "space seat" and a new economy seat. The IFE will also be replaced with the state of the art JAM system seen on the A330 fleet. After the upgrades Virgin will then refit the two 2-class A330's into a 3-Class layout and station them at London Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic’s fleet consists of the following aircraft as of April 2012:
|Airbus A330-300||3||5||—||—||59||255||314||Deliveries 2012|
|Airbus A340-300||4||—||—||34||35||171||240||Out of service 2012/2013|
|Airbus A340-600||19||—||—||45||38||225||308||4 aircraft to be phased out of the fleet from October 2012|
||Entry into service: 2015|
|14||58||379||451||To be phased out by new 14/66/377 Cabin|
|14||66||375||455||Refurbished Cabin featuring JAM Entertainment System|
||Entry into service: 2014|
In the past, Virgin Atlantic has operated a variety of aircraft. The retired fleet includes:
|Airbus A320||1995–2004||Operated for Virgin Sun.|
|Airbus A321||2000–2003||Operated for Virgin Sun.|
|Boeing 747–100||1990–2000||G-VMIA named 'Spirit of Sir Freddie' after Sir Freddie Laker.|
|Boeing 747–200||1984–2005||G-VIRG was Virgin's first aircraft.|
||This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2012)|
Virgin's first aircraft were painted with a "Eurowhite" design with a red stripe through the centre of the main deck windows. The engines were metallic silver and the tail red with the Virgin logo in white. In the 1990s the refreshed design was introduced, removing the centre red stripe through the windows, engines were painted red, the Virgin Atlantic titles in grey were added along the main fuselage and the 'Flying Lady' was introduced to the nose area.
In October 2006 with the delivery of G-VRED, Virgin introduced a new design, with the aircraft fuselage painted in metallic silver and a revised tail fin, with red and purple features and the Virgin logo.
Near the nose of each aircraft is a pinup girl, the "Scarlet Lady", carrying a Union flag, which was designed by British artist Ken White who modeled the motif on the World War II pin-ups of Alberto Vargas – hence the naming one of the fleet Varga Girl.
Each aircraft has a name, usually feminine, such as Ladybird, Island Lady and Ruby Tuesday, but some are linked to registrations (e.g. G-VFIZ became Bubbles). There are a couple of commemorative names (e.g. G-VEIL—Queen of the Skies—which was named by Queen Elizabeth II on 7 April 2004 in celebration of the centenary of the Entente Cordiale). An exception is Spirit of Sir Freddie. An early Boeing 747, it was named in honour of Freddie Laker of Laker Airways, who helped Virgin Atlantic run following the demise of his own airline.
G-VFAB—Lady Penelope—gained a special livery to celebrate Virgin Atlantic’s 21st birthday. The Scarlet Lady was enlarged and moved to the rear of the aircraft, a Boeing 747–400, and the aircraft was temporarily renamed Birthday Girl. The aircraft made a special flight recreating the first Virgin Atlantic flight, from London to New York, with Richard Branson and a number of special guests onboard. Since Virgin's 21st Birthday, this aircraft has maintained this special livery, with the minor change of the 21st Birthday balloon's removal from the nose area.
In 2010, the livery was replaced with a latest design, going back to the "Eurowhite" design featuring purple billboard titles on the fuselage of the aircraft, slight changes to the Scarlet Lady and new red metallic paint for the aircraft's tail & engines. The wingtips, which previously carried the Union Jack flag, were repainted red, with the Virgin logo on the inside facing passengers onboard. The Virgin Atlantic logo was also added to the underside of the aircraft, in purple billboard titles.
Over the years, Virgin has used many slogans, including:
||This section appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links. (June 2012)|
Economy is the standard basic class of Virgin Atlantic. Amenities include free meals, drinks, headsets and amenity kits for all passengers. Seats have a minimum seat pitch of 31 in (depending on the aircraft type). In addition, updated economy seats have adjustable lumbar support, by October 2012, the entire fleet will feature updated economy seats. In 2011 a re-freshed economy meal service was introduced.
Premium Economy has a separate check-in area, priority boarding ahead of Economy passengers, a wider seat with more legroom than Economy, and additional cabin services such as a preflight drink, newspapers and dedicated cabin crew. An updated Premium Economy service was recently introduced with meals served on china & glass with metal cutlery. As with Economy, in November 2006, Virgin launched an updated product with a wider seat that also supplies laptop power. It is being installed across the fleet starting with London Heathrow-based A340 aircraft. As of May 2010 all Airbus A340s, A330s, and London Heathrow Boeing 747s have the new product. The Gatwick fleet of Boeing 747's, as of April 2012 are being re-fitted with the new Premium Economy product. The Premium Economy cabin on the new A330-300s consists of 59 seats at the front of the aircraft.
Upper Class is the equivalent of business class on all Virgin Atlantic Airways’ flights. Virgin does not offer a traditional First Class cabin service. The Upper Class seat is claimed by the airline to be the biggest fully flat bed of any airline’s business class service (it is approximately 202 cm long and 84 cm wide); however, Air Canada and Singapore Airlines have made similar claims. The seat offers in-seat laptop power and power leads for iPods, and Upper Class passengers have access to a chauffeur, drive-through check-in and private security channel (at some airports[vague]), Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses, a larger menu than that of Premium Economy and Economy passengers and an in-flight bar. The seats in the Upper Class cabin are arranged in a Herringbone seating design. Most A330-300 aircraft are not fitted with Upper Class but new A330s  introduced in April will include Virgin Atlantic's new 'Upper Class Dream Suite' seats and cabin, which begins service on April 21 and will be rolled out through the rest of the Virgin Atlantic fleet by 2015.
All cabin classes on all Virgin Atlantic aircraft offer personal seat-back televisions. Most aircraft (some 747-400s, one A340-300 and all A340-600s) have an Audio/Video on Demand (AVOD) system called V:Port. The new A330-300 aircraft have a new touch screen AVOD system called JAM. Older "Odyssey" and "Super Nova" IFE systems can be found on the Gatwick/Manchester fleet: they both have smaller screens and display audio and video on a loop rather than broadcasting on demand. However, these older systems will be replaced as part of Virgin's investment in the Gatwick/Manchester fleet with the JAM AVOD system, scheduled for between April and October 2012.
|Tier Level||Benefits||Requirements to earn||Requirements to retain|
||Free membership||N/A; miles expire if no account activity for 36 months|
||Earn 15 tier points within a rolling 13 month period||Earn 15 tier points within a membership year|
||Earn 40 tier points within a rolling 13 month period||Earn 40 tier points within a membership year|
Virgin Atlantic carried over 5.2 million passengers during 2011, a 0.3% reduction compared with 2010.
|Alan Hellary, Richard Branson and Randolph Fields at the press launch of Virgin Atlantic Airways|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Virgin Atlantic Airways|
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