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Virgin Atlantic To Launch Daily Tampa-Heathrow Route

Credit: Tampa International Airport
TPA Executive Vice President Chris Minner met with a horde of Tampa Bay media to convey the airport's enthusiasm for Virgin Atlantic's new LHR service.

LHR had been Tampa's largest unserved overseas route

It's official: Virgin Atlantic is coming to Tampa Bay. On Wednesday, the airline announced plans to fly nonstop between Florida's Tampa International Airport and London Heathrow. The route is slated to start November 3 with four flights per week before increasing to daily year-round service beginning November 28. 

Offering more than 190,000 seats each year, Virgin Atlantic will be the only airline to directly connect the Tampa Bay region with LHR.

“We are delighted to continue our expansion in the US with this new daily service to Tampa, Florida offering even more choice for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the US and the UK,” said Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic. “Florida is very much a firm favorite for our customers ever since our first flight to Miami back in 1986. With the popular theme parks and the stunning beaches of St Pete and Clearwater within easy reach, we know it’s an area our customers will love to explore.”

Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano said he’s thrilled to welcome Virgin Atlantic while celebrating the Airport’s first nonstop service to Heathrow.

“Not only does this create another Tampa-London option for our leisure travelers, but there’s a huge upside for our thriving business community to now have a direct connection to the world’s premier business airport," Lopano said. "We expect this to be a popular route during what we know will be a very busy winter travel season at TPA.”   

Flights are set to go on sale on July 13 at www.virginatlantic.com.

Across the Tampa Bay area, local business and tourism leaders celebrated the new route as a massive win for the region.

“This is wonderful news,” said Chris Steinocher, President & CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "We know based on the latest economic studies that a daily nonstop European route brings in more than $154 million impact and creates approximately 1,200 jobs in our region. Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow-TPA is a big win for everyone, and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure this route is a great success."

Visit Tampa Bay President & CEO Santiago Corrada said the flight will no doubt be a boost to the local tourism industry.

"Tampa’s reputation as a top cultural, culinary and urban destination is well known across the pond, and we’re excited to welcome even more U.K. visitors to our beautiful city and region. We will continue to work with TPA and our other tourism and economic development partners to bring in more British passengers aboard Virgin Atlantic," said Corrada.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater President & CEO Steve Hayes echoed the route's importance to the region's economy.

“Visitors from the U.K. love our beaches, weather and warm hospitality, and this new nonstop connection provides another convenient avenue to increase the impact of U.K. travelers to our local economy,” he said. "We look forward to seeing Virgin Atlantic’s regular appearance in our skies and welcoming our U.K. friends to our area."

Tampa Bay EDC President & CEO Craig Richard added, "With Heathrow Airport being TPA’s largest unserved international route, this new London route aboard Virgin Atlantic could be a game-changer for both our leisure and business travelers. The Tampa Bay EDC puts its full support behind this partnership and we look forward to the great economic benefits that will surely follow."

Tampa Bay Chamber President & CEO Bob Rohrlack said new service into one of the world’s premier business airports is good news for the approximately 100 UK-based companies that have business operations in the Tampa Bay area. 

"As our region grows, this kind of world-class connection will be key to sustaining a robust business community that thrives on international commerce," said Rohrlack.

Tampa will be Virgin Atlantic's third destination in Florida behind Miami and Orlando. Visit Florida President & CEO Dana Young said the new Tampa route is a win for the entire state.

“In 2021, Florida's overseas market share reached nearly 45 percent, the highest any state has ever achieved,” said Young. "This new Virgin Atlantic route will play an integral role in continuing our growth and increasing the economic impact that international travelers have on the Tampa Bay region and the state." 

With Virgin Atlantic's new service to Heathrow, TPA will be one of only four airports in the U.S. to offers passengers a choice between London's two main airports. British Airways currently serves London Gatwick (LGW) with flights from TPA. Only New York's JFK, Boston's Logan International (BOS) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) currently offer service to both London airports.

Route facts

Route frequency Four times a week increasing to daily on November 28, 2022
Flight timings and flight number

LHR – TPA – VS129 – 13:25 / 18:35

TPA – LHR – VS130 – 20:50 / 10:15 (next day)

First flight November 3, 2022