Already at pre-Covid level in India, US transits should accelerate growth: Virgin Atlantic (IANS Exclusive)


Buoyed by the healthy passenger traffic growth to India, the UK-based Virgin Atlantic now expects to accelerate the recovery process in the coming year by aggressively tapping into the US transit segment.

At present, India has entered into ‘Air Bubble’ agreements with several countries including the UK.

In a conversation with IANS, Alex S. McEwan, Country Manager, South Asia for Virgin Atlantic, cited that India operations of the airline are already at pre-Covid levels.

“But the growth in our services from the UK to USA will offer even more connectivity and choice to Indian customers when travel restrictions permit,” McEwan said.

In September, the airline recommended daily services from both Delhi and Mumbai to London.

“Since then, we have seen strong load factors, with relaxations in travel restrictions unleashing pent up demand.”

“In recent weeks, bookings growth has plateaued due to Omicron, but performance continues to be encouraging and traffic is far higher than it was this time last year.”

According to McEwan, passengers travelling for ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’ (VFR) and students have been the core segment since the start of Covid.

“We are also seeing ‘green shoots’ in recovery for other segments like corporate travel too. We have some corporates who have travelled with us throughout Covid even when restrictions were at their tightest because they have in-person projects in the UK.”

“Corporate and leisure passengers are ready to travel but are more sensitive to travel restrictions than ‘VFR’ and student travel, two segments which have proved to be the most resilient.”

However, he pointed out that ‘Omicron’ has slowed down the growth in bookings.

“So far that has not forced us to make many changes to our global schedule. Particularly over the Christmas and New Year period, many passengers remain determined to travel.”

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at



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