Virgin Atlantic Increases Manchester Capacity

After its recent announcement on the deployment of a Boeing 747-400 for its full summer schedule of flights between Glasgow and Orlando in 2014, UK carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways has made a further commitment to supporting the strong demand for direct flights to Florida from the regions by confirming it will offer a further 30,000 return seats between Manchester and Orlando in summer 2014 versus this year’s schedule.

The carrier confirms that like at Glasgow, it will deploy a Boeing 747-400 on all eleven of its weekly flights from the northern UK gateway, resulting in up to 2,000 extra available seats to and from the Sunshine State every week.  Confirming the enduring popularity of Florida with British holidaymakers, Virgin Atlantic says it expects to carry up to 10,000 passengers every week from Manchester next summer, a 25 per cent increase from this year.  The 455-seat 747-400 will replace a 314-seat Airbus A330-300 which previously operated seven of Virgin’s eleven weekly flights.

The move further confirms Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to expansion in Manchester following the recent launch of its domestic service Little Red, which operates four daily return flights from Manchester Airport to London Heathrow. Little Red’s services reintroduced competition on the route, which had been served by a single carrier since British Airways’ takeover of bmi.

“Orlando has always been one of our most popular destinations and across our network we offer nearly 40 return flights a week to Florida.  We are delighted to see continued high demand for our flights from the North West of England and to meet this demand we have taken the decision to bring a second Boeing 747 jumbo jet onto this route, resulting in a huge increase in the number of seats available for holidaymakers looking for a sunshine break,” said Edmond Rose, Director of Airline Planning, Virgin Atlantic.

According to official UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, 484,605 passengers flew between Manchester and Orlando in 2012, up 1.9 per cent on the previous year.  The market is served on a scheduled basis by three carriers with Virgin Atlantic serving Orlando International and Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways serving Orlando Sanford.  In the table below we look at traffic demand between Manchester and the two airports serving the Orlando market over the past five years.  The UK CAA data shows that 2012 was the first year of traffic growth for a number of years and scheduled numbers in this market have slipped by a fifth from 611,076 passengers in 2008.

SCHEDULED AIR TRAFFIC DEMAND BETWEEN MANCHESTER AND ORLANDO (passengers - UK CAA)

Year

Orlando International (MCO)

Orlando Sanford (SFB)

Total Passengers

% Change

2012

338,672

145,933

484,605

1.9 %

2011

331,689

143,860

475,549

(-5.3) %

2010

365,893

136,149

502,042

(-2.2) %

2009

380,399

132,803

513,202

(-16.0) %

2008

369,102

241,974

611,076

(-8.4) %