Virgin Atlantic has celebrated its first flight between London Heathrow and Vancouver. The inaugural flight arrived in Vancouver on, 25th May and to mark the occasion, Sir Richard Branson was joined on the steps of the aircraft by Amy Williams MBE, winter Olympic Gold medallist from Vancouver 2010.
The new service will operate four times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Initially the service will run throughout the summer up until 27th October 2012 and will see up to 40,000 Virgin Atlantic customers travelling between London and Vancouver in the first season. As the airline's 32nd worldwide route, it is estimated that Virgin Atlantic's flights will deliver around CAD$20million (UK£12.5m) of tourism revenue to the Vancouver market each year.
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic Airways commented: “I am delighted to be here to mark this occasion and especially pleased to be joined by Amy Williams who is undoubtedly the darling of British Winter Sport – she returned home to the UK from Vancouver in 2010 as a National heroine.”
“We've had lots of customers asking us to fly to Vancouver over the years, so we're delighted to launch this new route in response to customer demand. Vancouver is such a cosmopolitan city, full of culture, shopping and restaurants but it also offers stunning beaches and a range of outdoor adventure options on its doorstep. Vancouver's tourism is thriving and we believe that we can drive demand even higher by providing great competition with our award winning product and service. The UK has the largest number of overseas visitors to British Columbia each year so it is a natural addition to our route network. This route launch further cements our position as the UK's leading long haul leisure airline.”
Amy Williams, MBE, winter Olympic Gold medallist from Vancouver 2020 commented: “I've not been back to Vancouver since winning gold over two years ago so I am really excited to be here again. It will no doubt be an emotional experience to go back to slide centre and to see how I feel and what emotions come flooding back. Vancouver is a fantastic city and I am looking forward to being part of Virgin Atlantic's celebrations and to see what it's like now and if it's still reminiscent of the Games.”
Sir Richard Branson along with the plane full of VIPS were greeted by a traditional ice hockey welcome and The Honorable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia who said:
“It is great news that Virgin Atlantic has chosen to add four weekly flights between London and Vancouver. The United Kingdom is one of our key markets and also serves as a hub for other international travellers heading to our province.
“Virgin Atlantic is recognised around the world as a progressive and innovative airline and we are excited about welcoming their passengers to British Columbia.”
Commenting on Virgin Atlantic's first flight into Vancouver Larry Berg, President and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, said:
“We have been working for years to bring this world-class carrier to Vancouver as a means to offer passengers more choice and satisfy the high demand for flights to Europe, particularly during the busy summer season.”
“This new service means more jobs for British Columbians and increased tourism revenue, particularly given that the UK is B.C.'s single greatest source of overseas visitors.”